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

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

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 17:59:53 -0600
Message-Id: <p05111b0fba1d7f1236ee@[]>
To: Frank Manola <fmanola@mitre.org>
Cc: w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org

>pat hayes wrote:
>>>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 
>>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.

Well, you may have noticed that I didnt take part in that discussion. 
Seems to me that whatever we say is going to get pored over, read, 
re-read, argued about till kingdom come, and whether or not we have 
marked some of it as more normative than other parts isnt likely to 
amount to hill of beans.

>>>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 

Well, yes. Whether we SHOULD or not is another matter, but I'll agree 
to shut up about that until after final call.


>  This is presumably an example of where we do.  I claim there are 
>other examples.
>Frank Manola                   The MITRE Corporation
>202 Burlington Road, MS A345   Bedford, MA 01730-1420
>mailto:fmanola@mitre.org       voice: 781-271-8147   FAX: 781-271-875

IHMC					(850)434 8903   home
40 South Alcaniz St.			(850)202 4416   office
Pensacola              			(850)202 4440   fax
FL 32501           				(850)291 0667    cell
phayes@ai.uwf.edu	          http://www.coginst.uwf.edu/~phayes
s.pam@ai.uwf.edu   for spam
Received on Wednesday, 11 December 2002 18:59:59 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Wednesday, 7 January 2015 14:54:03 UTC