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Re: What is an RDF Query?

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Wed Sep 12 16:05:39 2001
Message-Id: <200109122002.f8CK2TV09129@wadimousa.hawke.org>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
cc: www-rdf-rules@w3.org

... lots of stuff ...

> The key point is the interface between the 'modules'. If you can 
> define an interface between two logical languages, one more 
> expressive than the other, which works only 'one way', then maybe you 
> could build a kind of modular library extension. It would be hard to 
> characterize the expressiveness of the combined language, but that's 
> a theoretician's worry.

Good point (and all the points leading up to it).  Very well said.   Hm.

> OK, never mind the terminology. The more substantive point is the 
> idea that the meaning of logic is given in English. This curious 
> misapprehension seems to be widespread. Since about 1945, the 
> meanings of formal logics have been given in mathematical terms 
> (usually set theory), not English. That is why it is possible to 
> manipulate logic using machines. (If the computers had to first 
> understand English, we wouldn't even be able to send email to one 
> another.)

This idea of computers "understanding" is probably taking us the wrong
direction.  I think we'd agree that computers are simply physical
objects which obey the laws of physics and are constructed so that
those laws cause them to do useful things.  So the question in how did
their builders (in terms of hardware and software) come to understand
what would be useful (eg sending e-mail).  And that probably brings us
back to the rdf-logic thread about people/children learn the meanings
of words.  When I say "in English" I'm trying to say "however people
communicate meaning to each other."  The fact that mathematical terms
have been very useful for clear human communication is sort of beside
my point, which is that I'm not asking computers to do any sort of

> >How can we possibly standardize this?
> ?? What's the problem? The usual way: form a committee, have it 
> collect views, argue a lot, come to a decision, etc., then publish a 
> standard. In fact its already been done several times (KIF 3.0, CGs 
> (an ISO standard), IEEE-KIF (still going on, but..), etc.)

"The great thing about standards is that there are always new ones to
chose from."   Yeah.

> Oh, crap. Forgive me, but the W3C is just another bunch of folks like 
> all other bunches of folks, and it works exactly the same way. It 
> invents things and gets all huffy and protective about its own 
> inventions, just like everyone else does. It invented RDF and RDFS, 
> and it probably wishes it had invented XML.

Could be.  I wasn't there.  But it does seem like there's some
confusion when you say "W3C" between staff (a few dozen people around
the world) and member companies (500+ companies, many of them very
large).  I'm not sure who you're saying invented RDF, etc.  Perhaps
it's some vaguely defined community including some of each.  You have
more experience in W3C working groups now than I do, so maybe you know
better what that community might be.

Anyway, I think there is a difference between how ISO invents and how
Bell Labs invents.  And I think W3C is closer to a standards body in
general, but in Semantic Web activities is more like a research lab.
But maybe your point is that any group efforts is ALWAYS just done by
a bunch of people getting together, so who cares about the details of
their process.

> >It just facilitates others in trying to come to some working
> >consensus, to allow interoperability, when the technology is mature
> >enough to make that possible.  (RDF was ready for the application of
> >labeling web page content, which is how it became a W3C
> >Recommendation.
> So did RDF just fall down from the sky? The entire RDF effort 
> embodies technical terminology that are only found in W3C documents 
> (eg the term 'resource'). It was invented by W3C, not by the world 
> wide community. 

Damn I hate that word, "resource".  :-) RDF was invented by all the
people in the world who were particularly interested in helping to
invent it, don't you think?  (Some had greater barriers to
participation than others, but still.)  (I, personally, stayed away at
the time because they didn't seem to be looking at the problem in a
very promising way, I thought.)

> The rest of the world is waiting impatiently for W3C 
> to get its act together. 

I wouldn't have thought most of the world had much confidence that
anyone could solve these problems.   (Either that, or they think XML
has already solved them.)

> Which reminds me, I ought to be doing other 
> things than answering email.....

Yeah.    Still, it beats paying too much attention to the news.

    -- sandro
Received on Wednesday, 12 September 2001 16:05:39 UTC

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