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Re: DAML+OIL (March 2001) released

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2001 09:42:09 -0700
Message-Id: <v04210117b6eefd848176@[]>
To: "Seth Russell" <seth@robustai.net>
Cc: www-rdf-logic@w3.org
> > RDF graphs are just one data structure convention among many others
> > in use around the world, and for many purposes they are not even the
> > best.  The basic simplicity of the 'triples' model is often cited,
> > but the fact that arbitrarily complex graphs (and hence arbitrarily
> > complex syntactic constructs) can be encoded in triples has been
> > widely known since the 1880s (CS Peirce wrote extensively on the
> > subject) and has been a commonplace observation in data structuring
> > since the early 1960s; so the enthusiasm for this supposed
> > universality seems to reflect ignorance rather than insight.
>I'm having troubles following the logic of that paragraph.

Fair enough, it was rather hurried. My point was only to respond to a 
point that has often been made to me in RDF's defense, which is that 
RDF provides a 'triples' model which is both universal and simple; 
and my point was only that the utility and generality of triples is 
not in itself an argument for RDF. One could reject RDF without 
thereby throwing away the utility of triples.

> I parse it this
>  [triples (can encode) (arbitrarily complex syntactic constructs)]
>      is WellKnown;
>      (refer to this as) (supposed universality x).
>   (somebody who)
>        (has enthusiasm for) (supposed universality x);
>        reflects (ignorance rather than insight).
>Which doesn't follow in my book.

Nor mine. What I meant was that to claim that RDF and triples somehow 
go together like love and marriage, and that to reject one is to 
reject the other, reflects .....

> >RDF
> > triples have no special syntactic advantages over, say, LISP
> > Sexpressions, and they provide no special functionality or semantic
> > power.
>While I think this is doubtlessly true; since we can transform any triples
>diagram into sexpressions and visa versa without loss (can't we?); it would
>seem to me that there is an advantage in thir simplicity.  Of course, the
>enthusiasm for the triples in the community at large is also an advantage,

Triples are one thing, RDF something else. That is my point.

> >The RDF documentation and discussion archives are rife with
> > elementary errors (such as confusing use and mention, confusing
> > syntactic structure with meta-description, confusing asserting with
> > reference, confusing names with URIs, and confusing dereferencing
> > with denotation) that they often border on being simply incompetent.
>Hey man! ...then give us a hand ...
> > All the RDF engines I am aware of provide only primitive
> > data-structuring abilities and have a level of sophistication in
> > inferencing which is best described as pathetic.
>Inferencing is an application that sits on top of the triples ... let the
>best one win.  I fail to see how this is an argument against simply using

Of course it is not an argument against using triples, any more than 
criticising someone's grammar is an argument against using ink to 
write with. If by 'simply using triples' you mean 'using triples and 
not worrying about any larger structures which the triples are 
encoding' then there are good reasons why inferencing cannot be made 
to sit on top.

> > That is a political claim, not a technical one, and one that I would
> > strongly oppose. RDF has created far more problems for DAML+OIL than
> > it has been of utility.  The quote refers to difficulties of
> > capturing semantics: right now, RDF has no semantics, and until it
> > gets one, being part of the " bigger RDF network"  simply endorses
> > confusion.
>The politics of RDF is the politics of agreeing to use a common standard.

NO. It is the politics of using ONE PARTICULAR proposed standard. I 
rather dislike DOS, but that is not an argument against operating 
systems in general.

>What is your problem with that kind of politics?  It seems to me that we got
>too many cooks mucking with the soup.  We got CG, and KIF,  and CycL and
>lord know what other KR systems floating around.  It makes my head spin !

My dear fellow, you have hardly started. But if you want to legislate 
the world so that there is only one KR langauge or reasoning engine, 
then I would actively oppose that on political grounds, yes. That is 
like saying that we should all eat one standard food, and who needs 

Pat Hayes

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Received on Tuesday, 3 April 2001 13:54:55 GMT

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