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Musing on the philosophy of FPIs



  In a private note to Lee, I came up with a way of explaining it that I'd
never used before. FPIs are like SGML in that they are a late-binding
mechanism with undefined semantics.

   We use tags because we may need to process the same document many times
and tags help us to late-bind processing to document features. We name the
tags because there are fuzzy human-level semantics associated with those
textual phenomena that can't be formally described.

   We use FPIs because we may need to resolve names differently as we
re-use the names items on many different systems. We require certain
well-defined semantics -- uniqueness, arbitrary lifetime without name
reassignment (persistence) -- and late-bind the resolution mechanism for
those names at processing times. We give them human0-intepretable names
because that helps humans to assign and manipulate them, and we know that
this manipulation is not likely to be fully automatic any time soon.

   I don't know if this helps to make the positions clearer -- it helped me
to think about the different problems together, though.

   -- David

I am not a number. I am an undefined character.
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David Durand              dgd@cs.bu.edu  \  david@dynamicDiagrams.com
Boston University Computer Science        \  Sr. Analyst
http://www.cs.bu.edu/students/grads/dgd/   \  Dynamic Diagrams
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