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Re: Re-expressing our formalisation of Language

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 17:46:01 -0400
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: ht@inf.ed.ac.uk (Henry S. Thompson), www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFB013C271.04C58809-ON852571E1.0076906E-852571E1.0077922B@lotus.com>

Pat Hayes writes:

> Could the Tag please make an effort to avoid speaking in 
> tongues, when matters get basic? At least give some guidance, 
> or point to some kind of supporting theory or external account.
> Is an 'infon' something like a chunk of information (about 
> something? About what?)

I very much appreciate the spirit of what Henry has tried to do in 
capturing the gist of our telcon conclusions, but on this one I have to 
agree with Pat.  The term "infon" is confusing and unmotivated.  It was 
not used on the call at all, as far as I know.  I think it would be better 
to acknowledge somewhat more carefully in words that we have not yet 
reached even approximate consensus on how to discuss the substructure of 
the information that would be gleaned from a given instance document per a 
given language.  For example, we could try to model it all as named 
"slots" of some sort, which works well for some languages and is a force 
fit for some others.  I did suggest on the call that we need to find 
>some< way of dealing with substructure, so that we have a means of 
talking about which pieces (what's the word?) of the information were in 
fact conveyed correctly, which were lost, which are outright wrong, when a 
given text is authored in one language and interpreted in another.

I believe that "infon" was Henry's attempt to invent a neutral-sounding 
placeholder word given that our discussion didn't get to the point of 
clarity.  Still, I too find it confusing.  As I say, I would rather 
explain our status a bit more carefully as above.  As we move forward, 
we'll have to figure out what our story is about modeling information. 

Pat goes on to give a tutorial on some of the more established means of 
modeling information.  Neither semantics nore formal languages are areas 
of deep expertise for me, so I'll want to read that tutorial much more 
carefully before commenting one way or the other.  It seems at least like 
useful input to consider as we wrestle with modeling information that is 
conveyed by a text in an language.

--------------------------------------
Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
1-617-693-4036
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Received on Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:46:21 GMT

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