W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-sw-meaning@w3.org > November 2003

Re: The RDF Approach to Indicating Language-In-Use

From: pat hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2003 10:15:46 -0600
Message-Id: <p06001f63bbd022bf4a9a@[10.1.31.1]>
To: Graham Klyne <GK@ninebynine.org>
Cc: public-sw-meaning@w3.org

>At 12:59 31/10/03 -0500, Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:
>>  > Well, since you ask, I imagine that we could produce a three-part
>>>  statement:
>>>
>>>  1/ The SW meaning of a set of SW documents in a SW language is completely
>>>     determined from the normative specification of the SW language and the
>>>     contents of these SW documents.
>>>
>>>  2/ The meaning of a set of SW documents does not necessarily include any of
>>>     the meaning of any other document, except for those SW documents whose
>>>     meaning is explicitly required to be a part of the meaning of the SW
>>>     documents by the normative specification of the SW language and the
>>>     contents of these SW documents.
>>>
>>>  3/ Applications are free to augment this meaning, perhaps by including the
>>>     meaning of other SW documents, but are prohibited from indicating that
>>>     this augmented meaning is part of the meaning that comes from the SW
>>>     language.
>>>
>>>  So, as far as RDF is concerned, the meaning of a set of SW documents in
>>>  RDF/XML is determined solely from the RDF graph that results from the
>>>  parsing of these documents and is not dependent on the contents of
>>>  any other document.   OWL extends this to bring in the meaning of
>>>  imported documents.
>
>I think this is fine, and useful, as a description of 'SW meaning'.
>
>But I'm not sure that SW meaning has sufficient "meaning" to 
>usefully relate SW application behaviour to user's expectations. 
>Under what circumstances can a user regard the output of a SW 
>application as being correct, and when so, to what question is it 
>the correct answer?  I don't see 'SW meaning' telling us any of this.
>
>Yet application writers need to understand how programs interact 
>with the world of their users.  Maybe you're right that it's not our 
>role (as technologists) to define that, but I think that we (a) are 
>reasonably involved in the debate, and (b) should try to clarify the 
>boundary (and your description of SW meaning appears to help do 
>that).

In passing, I would like to avoid this terminology where we talk 
about *kinds* of meanings, if we can possibly manage to do so. It 
suggests a kind of botanical classification of meaning-species, and 
this tends to encourage a kind of Balkanization which we already have 
a tendency to fall into, where each of us with various agendas feels 
compelled to protect the rights of one kind of meaning over the other 
upstarts. Maybe this is unavoidable, but we should try to avoid it as 
far as possible. I am convinced that these different 'kinds' of 
meaning are all aspects of one notion, and that we should be able to 
find a way to make that clear. Blind men and the elephant, you know 
the story.

Pat
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Received on Thursday, 6 November 2003 11:15:49 GMT

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