W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org > October 2001

Ntriples++ (was Re: Banishing "bNode")

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 16:40:18 -0500
Message-Id: <p05101008b7f0ffad3c8a@[]>
To: Dave Beckett <dave.beckett@bristol.ac.uk>
Cc: w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org
>This really deserves a thread on its own, with a new subject,
>not just Re: Banishing "bNode"

OK, done. To reiterate, I'm NOT here requesting that these changes be 
made now. If we decide to only use very simple datatyping in RDF then 
there is no need to make these changes. (I would argue, on a 
different thread, that we in fact not decide to stick with very 
simple datatyping, for upward compatibility reasons; but that is 
another discussion.)

>However, assuming this happens, you therefore require a change in the
>N-Triples to handle it.
>>  (Here's a crude BNF for Ntriples++ (this allows literals as subjects,
>>  but its easy to fix that):
>>  <triple> ::=  <obj> <uriref> <obj> .
>>  <obj> ::= <label>|<nodeID>|nodeID>:<label>
>>  <label> ::= <uriref>|<literal>
>giving examples, you are talking about something like using terms
>   _id1:"blah"
>   _id2:"blah"
>to distinguish two ocurrences of the same literal "blah".

Right, on two different nodes; and also to provide an ID to allow 
other triples to refer to one of them..

>Your 'small' change also allows:
>   _id1:<uri>

True, which is useless. (I *said* the BNF was crude.)

>So unless that is a requirement of the MT, we should stay with just
>   <uri>
>which works just fine.

Yes, I agree.

>So if this literal labelled nodes, literal subject stuff is a
>requirement, I propose to make the following changes to the last
>public WD http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/WD-rdf-testcases-20010912/#ntriples
>   amending:
>     subject ::= uriref | nodeID | nodeID":"literal
>     object  ::= uriref | nodeID | nodeID":"literal | literal

I think this is too drastic for now, lets just leave Ntriple 
extensions, I'd suggest, but have it in reserve in case we decide to 
allow subtle datatyping.

BTW, there really are two options.

1. add nodeIds as an option to literal objects (only), ie just your 
second change above. This would be required if we were to allow 
complex datatyping (ie where the same literal can have more than one 
datatype, and where the datatype of a particular literal occurrence 
can be deduced from its context of use.)

2. (also) allow literals as subjects, ie first line above (though why 
did you make it non-optional?) This isn't required, but it would add 
useful expressivity and (I now think) cause no real harm to anyone.

But I'd suggest leaving all this open for discussion and just doing 
the following for now, which is really all I was asking for :-). 

>   deleting;
>     bNode
>   adding:
>     nodeID  ::=  '_:' name
>Where the bare literal object is used when the same literal is never
>used as a statement subject.

Even if not, we might need to use the nodeID: form. There might, for 
example, be some other assertion about that particular literal that 
entailed that it was typed as an integer, even if it only occurred as 
an object. For example

aaa integerpropertyeg "05" .
integerpropertyeg rdfs:range xsd:integer .
bbb stringpropertyeg "05" .
stringpropertyeg rdfs:range xsd:string .
ccc foodle "05" .

Is that third 05 the integer, the string, or neither of them? If we 
don't have literal-tidy graphs, there's no way to settle the 
question. I'd like to be able to write

aaa integerpropertyeg _:node1:"05" .
integerpropertyeg rdfs:range xsd:integer .
bbb stringpropertyeg "05" .
stringpropertyeg rdfs:range xsd:string .
ccc foodle  _:node1:"05" .

which insists that the first and last triples have the same object node

>The above changes also mean all
>existing N-Triples files remain legal.

Good point. That ought to be true, obviously.

The obvious convention, it occurs to me, is that an Ntriples document 
describes a graph which is as UNtidy as possible, given that nodes 
with the same uriref or nodeID *must* be identified in the graph. So 
one Ntriples-to-graph algorithm would be: treat everything except 
urirefs as being on a separate node, then use the nodeIDs to identify 
nodes with the same ID. The only point of adding nodeIDs is then to 
force two nodes to be identified in the graph: it's a kind of 
node-stitching indicator. (That's why they aren't needed for urirefs, 
since you could just use the uriref itself to do the job.) That would 
make the first example above have three distinct nodes with the same 
literal label, but the second example would only have two. (If you 
were to also add _:node1: to the middle literal, it would be only 
one, but that graph would be datatype-inconsistent.)

BTW, you would get the same RDF graph if you had said

aaa integerpropertyeg _:node1:"05" .
integerpropertyeg rdfs:range xsd:integer .
bbb stringpropertyeg "05" .
stringpropertyeg rdfs:range xsd:string .
ccc foodle  _:node1  .

which illustrates why 'bNode' would be particularly unfortunate in this case.

>  > This forces every node to have *some* kind of name in the Ntriples
>>  doc, even if they are blank.  Blank nodes are then nodes which are
>>  only referred to by a nodeID, ie have no label.  But you can refer to
>>  other nodes as well, if you want to weave a different graph. It's
>>  RDF-harmless to allow extra nodeIDs since they don't appear in the
>>  graph itself. The only real processing difference would be that a
>>  parser for this would have to check that no node was assigned two
>>  labels, and barf if it found that. )
>  >
>>  The point being that I think this will be needed in RDF2 if not in
>>  RDF1 (depends on how sexy literal typing is going to be allowed to
>>  get) , and once it is needed, the "bNode" terminology is going to be
>>  particularly confusing and unfortunate. We could fix this now pretty
>>  easily, since Ntriples is still kind of in-house., Once we make it
>>  normative it will be much harder to change.
>Sure; I just want a clear and good reason for allowing literals as
>subjects, labelling nodes with literals so that once this is done, we
>can change the N-Triples software to deal with them.  This means
>additional complexity in comparing graphs, as far as I can tell.

Yes, some. But I think that this kind of labelling, or something like 
it, will be inevitable if we have complex datatyping. If two 
different occurrences of the same literal are going to have different 
meanings, then they can't be at the same node. We have to have *some* 
way to distinguish things said about one meaning from things said 
about the other. And this gives us fewer nodes to compare than doing 
it Ron Daniel's way :-)


PS. BTW, if anyone feels that this particular style of labelling is 
ugly or has some bad properties, then I have no objection to doing it 
some other way. We could maybe write the label after the literal , 
for example, then we wouldn't need the extra semicolon (?)

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Received on Monday, 15 October 2001 17:40:25 UTC

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