RE: Semantic Layers (Was Interpretation of RDF reification)

The issue is that there is no or little recognition of the impact that
pragmatics (defined as that which occurs in real time) has on the category
formation necessary to formal or informal expression.

This is an omission that is/maybe almost unforgivable - given that the kinds
of things promised by semantic web advocates may not be achievable without
serious unexpected side effects - such as unmeasured mismatches between
asserted reality and real reality.  

The notion of formal pragmatics should be even more disturbing to natural
scientists than the (some feel) ill-founded notion of formal semantics.

Information structure with annotation enabling treatment by algorithms is
"sameAs"  formal semantics..

But without the possible misinterpretation that weighs so heavily on our

By making the language, we use, more in line with how other communities
perceive the use of terms, we advance our cause.  The confusion is lessened
just a little bit.

Again, by making the substitution "information structure" for "semantic" one
almost always finds a better communication.  Try it, (smiles) you may like
it (the substitution).  

-----Original Message-----
From: Harry Halpin [] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 8:48 AM
To: John F. Sowa
Cc:; Frank Manola; Adrian Walker; Peter F.
Patel-Schneider;; ONTAC-WG General Discussion
Subject: Re: Semantic Layers (Was Interpretation of RDF reification)

Quick notes:

    1) There is, as far as I can tell, no good theories of pragmatics
that are capable of being formalized. "Pragmatics", at least in
linguistics where I come from, is usually a sort of fuzzy "hand-waving"
solution to any hard problem, much as the terms "world-knowledge" and
"common-sense" knowledge are. Whenever I hear the word pragmatics I want
to reach for my axe :) Now, if someone has a good theory formal
pragmatics, go for it and forward me the links off-list, but I  bet is
that pragmatics are too context-dependent to formalize properly. So,
blaming the SemWeb for not doing pragmatics is a bit unfair. 

    2) Re syntax, XML people *like* XML, just in the same manner as
McCarthy was somewhat shocked to find out people actually liked
programming in S-Expressions. Also, RDF is not a programming language.
Therefore, one can do great RDF processing in LISP, where one can car
and cdr (head and tail) to one's delight. It seems like because it has a
formal semantics, once could define a multiplicity of syntax. Lastly,
the SemWeb is a stack, and the logic programming parts of it are in
development right now - I'm sure Sandro can tell us more, and they just
e-mailed their requirements to this list.

John F. Sowa wrote:

> Leonid and Henry,
> I am very much in sympathy with Leonid's comments,
> *especially* with the point that pragmatics comes first
> in any kind of design, semantics comes next, and syntax
> should be tailored to the semantics and the pragmatics.
>> Let me add some more items to the things you like .
>> - To extend the Triples approach by the Classificaton Theory
>> integrated with Measurment Theory ;
>> - To use the Pragmatics above the Semantics ;
>> - To use the Pragmatism "relativity" between Ontology and
>> Epistemology(Cognitology);
>> - To add the VSM of Stafford Beer
>> (
>> to Upper Ontology ;
>> - To add the "metasystem transition" as "natural generalization" way.
>> ---------------------------
>> See some more details in -
> The details of the systems Leonid cites are very interesting
> and should be considered, but there are also a lot of other
> interesting systems that should be considered.  I don't want
> to obscure the important principle above by quibbling over
> the other details.
> The following comment by Henry illustrates the difficulty:
> > OWL and RDF are not a syntax. They are a semantics. If you want
> > to make your life easier just use Turtle, or if you want more
> > power than what has yet been standardized, use N3. Here is an
> > atom feed rewritten using N3 (turtle) syntax with the AtomOwl
> > ontology [2]
> In politics, statements like the first two sentences above are
> technically known as "spin".  Although I was not involved in the
> design of RDF and OWL, I have read and heard enough about the
> process to know that the designers went through enormously
> complex contortions to shoehorn the finally agreed semantics
> into the syntax policy that was edicted a priori.
> Any syntax that is so difficult to use that it requires all the
> effort that Tim Bray and others expended on it just to express
> triples (and which Tim admits was a mistake) has something
> seriously wrong with it.  And if it requires tools as powerful
> as Turtle and N3 to make it humanly usable, that is further
> evidence that something is very seriously wrong.  And if the
> result is so bloated that it requires compression algorithms
> to reduce storage space and transmission time, that is
> abundant evidence that something is horribly wrong.
> The *only* argument that makes the slightest amount of sense
> is that the RDF and OWL syntax enables the reuse of parsers
> designed for XML.   That argument is undermined by the very
> simple observation that the notation (R arg1 arg2 ... argN)
> can be parsed with two functions built into many languages.
> In many commonly used languages, the two functions are called
> Head and Tail.  But whatever they are called, they provide
> a two-operator parser that comes for free with the language:
>  1. For any tuple list L, Head(L) is the first tuple, and
>     Tail(L) is the remaining list.
>  2. For any tuple T, Head(T) is the relation name, and
>     Tail(T) is the list of arguments.
> Henry's example (copy below) illustrates the kind of metalevel
> notation that is valuable for large documents (and in some cases
> even for a single tuple).  But in many applications, it is
> counterproductive for the metalevel to overwhelm the content.
> If you have a billion tuples (as many systems do), you don't
> want to annotate every last one of them individually.
> Recommendation:  Allow RDF and OWL to remain as they are, but
> provide an optional form along the lines of the tuple list I
> suggested in my previous note.  If you want to annotate a single
> tuple in the form Henry suggested, then use the following notation.
> But if you have a billion tuples (or even just a dozen), factor
> out the metanotation and put the content in a simple tuple list.
> As Tim Bray commented about the mistakes in the design of RDF:
>    It's the syntax, stupid!
> John Sowa
> __________________________________________________________________
> [ a :Feed, :Version;
>    :title [ :value "Example Feed";
>             :type "text/plain" ];
>    :link  [ :href <>;
>             :rel iana:alternate ];
>    :updated "2003-12-13T18:30:02Z"^^xsd:dateTime;
>    :author [ :name "John Doe" ];
>    :id <urn:uuid:60a76c80-d399-11d9-b93C-0003939e0af6>;
>    :entry [ a :Entry, :Version;
>             :title [ :value "Atom-Powered Robots Run Amok";
>                      :type "text/plain" ];
>             :link [  :href <>;
>                      :rel iana:alternate ];
>             :id <urn:uuid:1225c695-cfb8-4ebb-aaaa-80da344efa6a>;
>             :updated "2003-12-13T18:30:02Z"^^xsd:dateTime;
>             :summary [  :value "some text";
>                         :type "text/plain" ]
>           ];
> ] .

Received on Thursday, 30 March 2006 03:19:16 UTC