A compound name is a sequence of one or more atomic names. An atomic name in one context can be bound to a reference to another context of the same type, called a subcontext. Objects in the subcontext are named using a compound name. Compound names are resolved by looking up each successive atomic name in each successive context.
A familiar analogy for UNIX users is the file naming model, where directories are analogous to contexts, and path names serve as compound names. Furthermore, contexts can be arranged in a "tree" structure, just as directories are, with the compound names forming a hierarchical namespace.
UNIX: usr/local/bin. UNIX atomic names are ordered from left to right and are delimited by slash (/) characters. The name usr is bound to a context in which local is bound. The name local is bound to a context in which bin is bound.
DNS: sales.doc.com. DNS atomic names are ordered from right to left, and are delimited by dot (.) characters. The domain name com is bound to a context in which doc is bound. doc is bound to a context in which sales is bound.
X.500: c=us/o=doc/ou=sales. An X.500 atomic name comprises an attribute type and an attribute value. Atomic names are known as relative distinguished names in X.500. In this string representation, X.500 atomic names are ordered from left to right, and are delimited by slash (/) characters. An attribute type is separated from an attribute value by an equal sign (=) character. Abbreviations are defined for commonly used attribute types (for example, "c" represents country name). The country name US is bound to a context in which doc is bound. The organization name doc is bound to a context in which the organizational unit name sales is bound.