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Re: Comment on "Named Graphs, Provenance and Trust"

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 14:11:25 -0500
Message-Id: <p06001f17bcc039a81133@[]>
To: "John Black" <JohnBlack@deltek.com>
Cc: public-sw-meaning@w3.org

>I am excited by the paper, "Named Graphs, Provenance and Trust" -
>I think that the ideas in this paper solve several of the problems that
>have been discussed on this list in a elegant and compelling way.  But
>even more, a general method is proposed that can be used to solve many
>more problems.  Great kudos are due to the authors, IMHO. I hope work
>proceeds on this with all deliberate speed, as they say in the courts.
>Using the ideas in this work, I can now resubmit a previous idea in
>these terms.  In addition to the performatives cited in this paper,
>asserting, promising, naming, marrying, etc., I would like to work out
>the syntax and semantics of a *defining* performative, if possible.

Right, I had your emails in the back of my mind while working on 
sections of the paper :-)

>This is what I previously referred to as a 'stipulative definition' or
>'stipulative ontology'.  What I am trying to get at intuitively is the
>ability to say, "When this term is used in this context it SHALL be
>interpreted to mean that".  And as a crude example of its use, imagine
>I had need to import two ontologies, one a universal business language
>ontology of commercial transactions, and the other, Bijan and Peter's
>alternative ontology of transactions, both of which contained some terms
>I needed but which had an incompatible "invoice" term that caused an
>ambiguity (inconsistency).  Now I want to be able to eliminate the
>ambiguity by stating that within this named graph, when the term
>"invoice" is used, it SHALL be interpreted according to the UBL ontology
>(or vice versa).

But the performative story only gives you a kind of act, not a 
stipulation about other's acts or interpretations. So let me try to 
rephrase this a little: suppose we say that the intuitive force of 
such a stipulative definition is to declare that *your intention* is 
that the terms shall have the meaning you give to them, and that any 
usage (such as Bijan and Peter's, in the example) which clashes or is 
incompatible with your meanings is not intended by you. This of 
course does not *prevent* P & B from misusing your terminology (how 
could it?) , or force anyone else to believe you rather than them (so 
all this foolish analogizing with tyranny, oppression and freedom is 
beside the point): but it does give any third party a clear, 
unambiguous, machine-readable and traceable-to-you indication that 
would enable them to follow your indicated intentions if they wish to 
do so, without your stipulative definitions being muddled by 
information received from elsewhere without your authority.

Consider the following strategy: you owl:import the UBL ontology into 
yours, and then assert your ontology using an appropriate warrant. 
The result would be in effect asserting the conjunction of the UBL 
'definitions' and your ontology together as a single unit: anything 
that contradicted the definitions would be in effect contradicting 
your assertion. Would that do the trick?

>I'm also wondering if you all had thought out the implications of
>these ideas for the semantics of the actual web.  I mean, would it
>be better to view URIs and web sites as performatives?

Well, Im not sure what that would mean exactly, but I think this is 
more or less the de facto situation we have now, where publishing is 
kind of generally assumed to be asserting. As many folk have pointed 
out, thought, this is likely to not be workable when things get 
larger, which is why we tried to come up with a way to rationalize 

>  rather than
>as identifiers, names, or statements?  They seem to have something of
>the same self-describing quality.  They mean what they return
>because they return what they mean.

Ah, I may see what you mean. The fact that a URI is seen as an 
identifier which can be used to retrieve something, rather than 
simply a referring name, may be related to the performative idea (??) 
I hadnt thought about that before. Hmmmm....

Pat Hayes

>John Black
>Senior Software Architect,
>Time & Expense Collection Group,
>Enterprise Systems Division,
>Deltek Systems, Inc. www.deltek.com
>Office: 703-885-9656
>Mobile: 434-825-3765

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Received on Thursday, 6 May 2004 15:11:27 UTC

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