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RE: RDF core: abstract syntax and semantics - an attempt

From: Graham Klyne <GK@NineByNine.org>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 10:38:06 +0100
Message-Id: <>
To: "Danny Ayers" <danny.ayers@btinternet.com>
Cc: <www-rdf-logic@w3.org>
At 01:52 AM 6/22/01 +0100, Danny Ayers wrote:
>Hey - good work. There are at least two other attempts to do the same that
>have been by this list, but neither promoted the reification (or is it
>quoting) as a hook - some more non-normative but informative words would be

Thank you.

The reason I tackled this myself as yet another attempt at RDF semantics 
was, in part, to try and see how what I view as the simplest possible RDF 
core could work out;  particularly the "reification" bit.

I don't know if what I am calling "reification" is what true logicians 
would call "reification".  But it seems to me that what I have modelled is 
quite distinct from "quotation":  at no point are statements in the RDF 
language made part of the domain of interpretation.

If this is felt to be a useful contribution, I hope to engage in ongoing 
discussions and clarifications in response to feedback.

Another of my reasons for preparing this note was to set out what I have 
recently come to understand is the relationship between abstract syntax and 
semantics:  I have had some private discussions about syntax and semantics 
(e.g. why is "reification" drawn out as a separate syntactic construct when 
it can also be expressed as a collection of ordinary triples).  I think it 
is reasier to see why this may be useful when looking at the way semantics 
are defined in relation to the syntax.  To quote from the Scott/Strachey 
paper that I reference:
In all cases there is a syntactical definition in several clauses.  The 
semantical definition is "syntax directed" in that it follows the same 
order of clauses and transforms each language construct into the intended 
operation on the meanings of the parts.

I'll also note that the use of square brackets in the semantic definitions 
to clarify the distinction between things in the semantic domain and things 
in the domain of interpretation is a stylistic technique I adopted from the 
Scott/Strachey approach.  For me, this helps to keep at the forefront the 
fact that we are dealing with a number of different kinds of thing:  a 
language, exp[ressions in that language, things from a domain of 
interpretation, and a metalanguage to0 describe the domain of interpretation.

Beyond this, it is my hope that the "core RDF" that I have targeted is 
sufficiently simple that the expression of semantics are easily understood, 
and can be seen as intuitively related to elements of RDF that we know and 
love (or hate).

Received on Friday, 22 June 2001 06:08:44 UTC

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