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Re: Madonna / Data + Application Semantics

From: Adrian Walker <adrianw@snet.net>
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 10:03:21 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Frank Manola <fmanola@acm.org>
Cc: "Spork, Murray" <murray.spork@sap.com>, Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>, billkent@bkent.net, semantic-web@w3.org

Frank, Henry, Murray , Bill --

Good discussion, (appended below) !

There was a nice exchange between Bill Kent and a leading academic around 
the time when the "universal relation"  (UR) was being proposed as a 
database model.  Bill pointed out that if the UR contained "person has 
horse" and "horse has birthday", then one could conclude "person has 
birthday" -- clearly wrong.

The story comes to mind because there seems to be a history of  IT folks 
proposing "semantic" models that unnecessarily leave out essential aspects 
of the real world.

The latest example of this is perhaps "data semantics" as practised in the 
XML and RDF/OWL communities.  Great as far as it goes, but only half the story.

The naming problem is difficult, but we seem to make it even more difficult 
by trying to solve it with amputated models of the real world.  Yet there 
are folks intent on doing just this for the US National Health Information 
Network and other very large projects.

Frank will be familiar with my argument that there is something practical 
that we can do about this right now.  This is to include executable, open 
vocabulary English as part of the modelling toolkit, and as part of the 
fielded systems.  In a sense, this adds real world application semantics to 
the current data semantics.

The e-Government presentation at www.reengineeringllc.com shows how to do 
this, and it's based on a practical system that is online at the same site.

How does this sound ?
                                                      Cheers,  -- Adrian

Adrian Walker
Reengineering LLC
PO Box 1412
CT 06011-1412 USA

Phone: USA 860 583 9677
Cell:    USA  860 830 2085
Fax:    USA  860 314 1029

At 09:26 AM 2/9/2005 -0500, you wrote:

>It's available online.  Go to http://www.authorhouse.com/ and search for 
>Excerpts at http://www.bkent.net/Doc/darxrp.htm
>Bill's "arguments" are very realistic;  basically, that modeling this 
>stuff can be more complicated than it might appear (at least to some 
>folks) on the surface.
>Henry Story wrote:
>>Thanks for the pointer. I should point out that for every great idea
>>there have been great (and not so great) skeptics. These often help
>>advance the field, in that arguments have to be devised and clarified
>>to overcome their positions.
>>There have been people who have argued that:
>>   - we cannot know anything
>>   - the world is an illusion
>>   - that logic is fatally flawed
>>   - that the earth is flat
>>   - the holocaust never happened
>>I take it that Bill Kent's arguments must be of the better variety, but
>>would need more precise arguments to evaluate his position. Again
>>thanks for the pointer. Please do let me know if you find some
>>online articles that summarize his thoughts.
>>In the mean time, I'll just be optimistic. Logic has incredibly
>>solid foundations. It has received the attention of some of the
>>brightest minds in the past 2400 years, including Aristotle, Leibniz,
>>Frege, Betrand Russel, Wittgenstein, Donald Davidson, David Lewis, and
>>many many many more...
>>Henry Story
>>On 9 Feb 2005, at 12:00, Spork, Murray wrote:
>>>[Cc's trimmed]
>>>Hi Henry,
>>>I was going to point you towards a keynote speech at Extreme Markup
>>>Languages 2003 by Bill Kent on the "Unsolvable Identity Problem" but
>>>can't find it anywhere - the best I can find is [1].
>>>Doesn anyone know if it's available online? I'm sure it used to be.
>>>Kent's book "Data and Reality" [2] is essential reading (and a little
>>>depressing for all of us interested in the "semantics" of data) - just
>>>as relevant now as it was in the 70s when written.
>>>[1] http://www.extrememarkup.com/extreme/2003/keynotes.asp
>>>http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1585009709/qid=1107946684/ sr=1-
>>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>>From: semantic-web-request@w3.org
>>>>[mailto:semantic-web-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Henry Story
>>>>Sent: Wednesday,9 February 2005 7:42 PM
>>>>To: semantic-web@w3.org
>>>>Cc: Roy T. Fielding; Atom Syntax; bloged
>>>>Subject: Madonna
>>>>Just a point of clarification about identity. (I thought the example
>>>>is fun enough that it may be of interest)
>>>>As we all know Madonna is a material girl, and she lives in a
>>>>material [snip]
Received on Wednesday, 9 February 2005 15:04:06 UTC

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