W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org > December 2002

Re: pruning the semantics document (and "meaningless terms")

From: Frank Manola <fmanola@mitre.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 18:29:39 -0500
Message-ID: <3DF7CA63.7080501@mitre.org>
To: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
CC: w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org

pat hayes wrote:

>> Pat--
>>
>> I'm sorry, but on the basis of Patrick's recently-expressed concerns 
>> about "meaningless terms", I've got to temporarily object to this. The 
>> problem is roughly this:
>>
>> When I said:
>>
>>>> All these terms are discussed in the Primer (in some cases 
>>>> extensively),
>>>> together with examples of their use.  In all the use cases, there are
>>>> caveats expressed that describe these as "intended meanings",
>>>>
>> Patrick said:
>>
>>>
>>>  But intended by whom? If they are intended by the RDF Core WG, then
>>>  they should be normative. If they are intended by someone else, why
>>>  should we say anything about them or even include the terms in the
>>>  RDF vocabulary.
>>
>>
>> and later said:
>>
>>>  Precisely. I think that the Primer should reflect, in minimally 
>>> technical
>>>  and accessible terms the normative content of the other documents, and
>>>  the examples and verbage for these terms does in fact suggest that RDF
>>>  is asserting meaning for these terms which it is not.
>>
>>
>> So it seems to me that when the Semantics document describes the 
>> intended meaning of terms from this vocabulary, like containers and 
>> collections (and reification, and ...), it's a normative statement of 
>> our intent (even if we can't fully define the semantics formally), and 
>> it's OK then to elaborate on that in the Primer.
> 
> 
> Well, OK, not a big deal. I guess I was just worried that what you say 
> in the Primer about collections/containers/reification is pretty much 
> *exactly the same* as what I say in the MT doc, in some cases in almost 
> the same words and with the same examples. So it just seems like 
> duplication, is all I meant; and since the MT is, arguably, kind of 
> overloaded with expanatory prose in any case (for an MT doc, that is), 
> why not do some redundancy-pruning?. I wasnt meaning to get involved 
> with normative/informative issues particularly. About half the semantics 
> doc is explicitly labelled as non-normative in any case.


I agree 100% about the duplication, and what you suggested made perfect 
sense to me, except that if things said in the MT doc are "meaningful", 
and the same things said in the Primer are "meaningless", then let's by 
all means say them in the MT doc, where we presumably "mean" them more 
(or something).  Sheesh.


> 
snip
>>
>> b.  We added the "meaningless" collection vocabulary not that long 
>> ago.  This isn't a piece of bad old legacy syntax from M&S.  Did we 
>> really have no normatively-describable intent in doing that?
> 
> 
> No, and I had a perfectly fine formal MT for it, but the WG decided that 
> we shouldnt use it. I still am puzzled about this decision, which was 
> apparently taken on the grounds of 'RDF style'. Hey ho.


Right.  This is a good illustration of the problem.  Can we legitimately 
have a normatively-stated intent for some construct, without having a 
formal MT for it ("intent" as opposed to "we will absolutely guarantee 
you can never use this inconsistently with our intent, and we have 
entailments that describe all aspects of that intent")?  This is 
presumably an example of where we do.  I claim there are other examples.

--Frank

 


-- 
Frank Manola                   The MITRE Corporation
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Received on Wednesday, 11 December 2002 18:12:06 EST

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