W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webpayments@w3.org > December 2011

Re: The PaySwarm Ecosystem

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 00:04:37 -0500
Message-ID: <4EE82E65.5040707@digitalbazaar.com>
To: public-webpayments@w3.org
On 12/04/2011 05:05 PM, Steven Rowat wrote:
> On 12/4/11 11:16 AM, Manu Sporny wrote:
>> ...So, what the graph does is allow us to express a simple payment
>>  transaction in a way that is portable across all systems on the
>> Web. .....
>> Does all of that make sense?
> It does, thank you.
> A couple of further questions: I see that in the previous email I
> was thrown in my attempt to understand by my presumption that your
> 'graph' was plotting on simple two- or three-axis numerical plots --
> like, say, the rise and fall of the Dow Jones average over the last
> 50 years. I would have called what you showed me something else,
> maybe a 'chart'. But looking up the dictionary definitions, I see
> that 'graph' is just as good a word for what you've showed me.

Yes, "graph" in the sense I was using has absolutely nothing to do with
any sort of graphical form (like a picture of the Dow Jones average, or
a chart). I try and clarify below...

> But, in order to understand better, I'll ask: does your graph that
> shows the links also contain the same sort of ability to have
> discrete numerical amounts between all the nodes that the Dow Jones
> plot does? So that, say, there could be dozens of different types of
> two or three axis plots generated in a graph that has several nodes?

The short answer is yes, but I'm afraid that we may be
mis-communicating. A graph (in the mathematical sense, as in "graph
theory") contains a bunch of information. It's like an excel spreadsheet
in this sense, or a comma separated file, or a black-box flight recorder
- the information can be visualized in a variety of different ways.
However, there we are not talking about visualization at all, here.
We're just talking about the basic mathematical construct (really,
computer science data structure) that stores this information.

> And if so, is the information to make these plots derived only from
> the declared information in the list of data?

It would probably be best to strike the idea of "making plots" or any
sort of graphical representation from the conversation because it
conflates two things: 1) the information and 2) the visualization of
that information. I'm only talking about #1 when I say "graph".

> Or does it include measurements of the network itself outside the
> declared data (such as records of movements of the data over the
> network)?

The graph could contain either or both - that is, all of that "stuff" is
information and a graph can represent not only information, but how each
piece of information is connected to one another. For example, let's say
we have the following two pieces of information (represented as two
"nodes" in a graph):

[Manu]     [Steven]

We could connect those two "nodes" in the graph by creating an "edge"
between them:


The edge is labeled "knows" to express that "Manu knows Steven"...
basically, we've not only expressed two pieces of information (Manu and
Steven), but we've also expressed a third piece of information based on
the linkage of the graph (Manu knows Steven).

There is a good wikipedia article on graphs here:


> And in either case, are there sub-graphs that are labelled and saved
> in some way that has permanence, or are the graphs only created on
> the fly each time and evaporate after their unique use is over?

In PaySwarm, there are both. There are graphs that are only created on
the fly and only make sense during their short lifetime. An example of
this is a purchase request (when a vendor requests a purchase on behalf
of a buyer in the system). There are also graphs that are labeled (via a
URL) and stored for a very long time. An example of a graph that is
stored for a very long time is a digital contract.

> I'm aware that my questions may not make sense if I haven't
> understood what's happening well enough, but regardless, I had fun
> asking them. :-) .

Some did, some didn't... but I hope my answers help clarify further. :)

-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: The Need for Data-Driven Standards
Received on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 05:05:05 UTC

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