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the term "named graphs"

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2012 15:10:40 -0400
To: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>
Cc: Antoine Zimmermann <antoine.zimmermann@emse.fr>, RDF WG <public-rdf-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <1335467440.9663.551.camel@waldron>
On Thu, 2012-04-26 at 18:04 +0100, Richard Cyganiak wrote:
> On 26 Apr 2012, at 17:13, Sandro Hawke wrote:
> >> "G is called the default graph. The pairs (<ui>, Gi) are named graphs."
> > 
> > I have to say (again) that I'm not okay with calling something a "named
> > graph", especially formally, when it isn't named and isn't a graph (or
> > RDF Graph).  
> But they *are* named (except formally), and they *are* graphs (except formally).

To be clear, my concern is with calling (u,G) a named graph.   I'm fine
with calling G a named graph.   I think that's the common practice. I do
not think people in general speech call (u,G) a named graph.    I think
(u,G) should be called something more like a name graph pair.

I guess by defining (u,G) as a named graph, we're using a figure of
speech, a kind of synecdoche.   That doesn't seem like a good idea of a
formal spec, because of the potential to confuse people.

I suppose no one is going to mock us for it because they have much,
much greater things to mock us for, but it feels absurd and mock-worthy
to me.   (Sorry, Carroll et al, I don't think this bit has worked out:
"To avoid confusion ... we distinguish between Named Graphs and the RDF
graph that the Named Graph encodes or represents."   People, as I hear
them talk, are not making that distinction.)    [BTW, looking over
Carrol et all again, it really is a great paper.]

> People have called them “named graphs” for years. It's on Wikipedia, it's in hundreds of books, in thousands of articles, and tens of thousands of web pages. The genie might already be out of the bottle. We serve the community well by standardizing established practice.

I think nearly everyone who used the term "named graph" is thinking
about a graph that has a name, not a binding-pair.    Looking through
the Wikipedia page, I see it consistently uses the term either as the
name of a technology (which doesn't bear on this argument), or as a kind
of graph -- never as a pair.  For example:

        While named graphs may appear on the Web as simple linked
        documents (i.e. Linked Data), ...
I'm pretty sure they mean "named graph" to be a graph which happens to
have a name.  That's fine.  I doubt they mean "[Bindings of names to
graphs] can appear on the Web as simple linked documents", although in a
sense that is kind of true.

So, instead of 

        An RDF Dataset ... comprises ... Zero or more named graphs.
        Each named graph is a pair consisting of an IRI (the graph
        name), and an RDF graph.
modulo all the other changes we might do in this area, just thinking
about terminology, I would be much more comfortable with something like:

        An RDF Dataset ... comprises ... Zero or more name graph pairs.
        Each name graph pair is a pair consisting of an IRI (the graph
        name), and an RDF graph (the named graph).
And, to be clear, I don't actually care whether *I* am comfortable with
this.  It's just that usually when something's bothering me this much,
it's bothering lots of other people too, whether they mention it or not.
(I know this because they tell me later.)  I will happily shut up in the
face of credible data that outsiders understand but are not bothered by
the fact that, by our definition, named graphs are (u,G) pairs, and the
graphs in SPARQL stores that have a name are not, themselves, "named

Actually, I'll probably just shut up now, having made my case about as
well as I can.  

    -- Sandro

> > I don't think wordsmithing this section will productive until/unless we
> > have a shared understand of what we actually want to say, though.
> +1
> Richard
Received on Thursday, 26 April 2012 19:10:55 UTC

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