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in defense of lawyers - was RE: RDF semantics

From: Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 14:46:37 -0400
To: danny@panlanka.net
Cc: drew.mcdermott@yale.edu, www-rdf-logic@w3.org
Message-Id: <20010409144637N.pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
It is very fashionable to put down lawers (and, in this group, it also
appears to be fasionable to put down logicians).  However, legal training
and experience is necessary to craft documents and agreements that will
1/ stand up in court, and 2/ not cause more problems than they solve.  I
view the situation with respect to representation as quite similar:  It
takes logical training and experience to craft representations and
interfaces that will 1/ actually say and do what you want them to (when not
helped along by human-level understanding), and 2/ not cause more problems
later on than they solve now.

Perhaps those of us who are arguing for logical sophistication have not
been as explicit as we might in making our case.  However, Drew, Pat, and I
have seen firsthand the problems that can arise when logical precepts are
ignored.  (I have even seen such problems with respect to my own work.)

All this is not to say that it is always necessary to take care of all the
logical precepts in designing a representation system.  There are many
useful representation systems that are on shakey ground.  However, such
systems run into problems when they are used as components of other
systems, or are used by people (or systems) beyond the initial core group,
or are used in ways that were not envisioned or completely thought through
by the initial core group.  If you think that a web representation system
that is supposed to form the basis of all semantic web work doesn't fit
into any of these categories then you don't need a firmly-grounded system.
If, on the other hand, [you can fill in this part] ....

Peter F. Patel-Schneider
Bell Labs Research


From: "Danny Ayers" <danny@panlanka.net>
Subject: RE: RDF semantics:  applications, formalism and education
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 23:22:43 +0600

> Thanks for this - your description is very helpful.
> 
> IANAL, and have been arguing from a point of view of considerable ignorance
> of the actual problem (can you have a large quantity of something missing?),
> but I worry when a lawyer/logician produces a bill - I prefer to see a
> pretty clear cut case. Having said that, I really do hope it won't be long
> before the community reaches for its chequebook, one way or another.
> 
> I think I'd better do some more reading before I dig myself too big a
> hole...
> 
> ---
> Danny Ayers
> http://www.isacat.net
Received on Monday, 9 April 2001 14:48:14 GMT

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