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RE: DECIDED: untidy semantics

From: Jeremy Carroll <jjc@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 10:35:03 +0200
To: "Jan Grant" <Jan.Grant@bristol.ac.uk>, "Jos De_Roo" <jos.deroo.jd@belgium.agfa.com>
Cc: "w3c-rdfcore-wg" <w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org>

Summary: No API changes etc are needed for syntactic RDF manipulation for
semantic untidiness.

> However, while it's not overly onerous to implement in every case
> (although it might be in many implementations), the resulting API was an
> absolute fag to code to; small experiments quickly descended into
> graph-grovelling.

I am finding the API and syntactic discussions very hard to understand.

I am seeing it differently from many of the other implementors.
The decision we made was about semantics not syntax, so why do we need to
make the syntax more difficult.

I'll try and explain how I see it with a test case:


There are three literals in the XML here, "10" "10" and "10".
Logically there seem to be five possibilities:
(A)  all three map to one node.
(B,C,D) the three literals in the XML map to two nodes (three different
choices of the odd one out)
(E) the three literals in the XML map to three different nodes.

I do not believe that there has been anyone who has advocated the *two node*
options (B,C,D) here.
I believe that with appropriate range constraints the untidy semantic
decision may be understood as enabling say the first two to have the same
value and the third to have a different value; but that is at the semantic
level not the syntactic level.

I have understood that there is no enthusiasm for my proposed tidy syntax
with untidy semantics. This rules out the first option (A).
Thus we are left with option (C).

> Incidentally, the test cases are going to be somewhat delayed since we
> no longer have any way of comparing ntriples-expressed graphs for
> equality, so parser tests are (for the moment, at least) impossible to
> automate.

Thus the ntriples (with qnames) for this is unambiguously:

_:b eg:a "10".
_:b eg:b "10".
_:b eg:c "10".

And the two documents represent the same graph using exactly the same code
as we have being running for over a year now.

We may need minor changes to the documentation:

  equals(RDFGraph a,RDFGraph b)

Graph a is isomorphic to Graph b as defined in the first RDF Concepts and
Abstract Data Model WD.
changes to
  equals(RDFGraph a,RDFGraph b)

Graph a is isomorphic to Graph b as defined in the second RDF Concepts and
Abstract Data Model WD.
but no code changes.

Moreover, we have not seen anyone wishing to express the B,C,or D options in
RDF/XML and so there is no need to put these options into the abstract
syntax. Hence my proposal to restrict untyped literals in the abstract
syntax to occurring in precisely one triple, and committing the abstract
syntax to option E.

So in terms of API changes, some are needed, but these are for support of
datatyping and semantics in general, not for syntactic changes.


Add methods:
to Literals.

Modify documentation of equals on Literal

  equals(Literal a, Literal b)

Reports true if the two literal nodes have the same label.

Triples too, then have syntactic equality and semantic equality
(sameValueAs). I do not believe that we have yet resolved the issue of
whether two syntactically identical triples (with Literal objects) can have
different semantics.

The test case is the dc example:

<eg:Document rdf:ID="doc">
  <dc:Creator>J. Smith</dc:Creator>
  <dc:Creator>J. Smith</dc:Creator>

My understanding is that this only ever produced one triple, and so I would
want it to still produce one triple, which restricts the Literal 2 Value
mapping to depend on the literal, property and subject of the triple and
nothing else.

(Contrast with)
<eg:Document rdf:ID="doc">
  <dc:Creator eg:name="J. Smith"/>
  <dc:Creator eg:name="J. Smith"/>

which produces two triples but is entailed by and entails the one triple
or with

<eg:Document rdf:ID="doc">
  <dc:Creator eg:name="J. Smith" eg:sex="Male"/>
  <dc:Creator eg:name="J. Smith" eg:sex="Female"/>

which finally has a document with two authors.

> PS. On the untidyness of literals: I'm still not certain why untidy
> literals are tagged with what PS calls "system IDs" as opposed to
> bnodes, the space of which may intersect with non-literal-labelling
> bnodes.

The decision on Friday was about the semantics (of RDF/XML). I think the
space of how we get those semantics is still open; we could do the sort of a
literal is a bnode and a triple approach that Pat suggested in
simpledatatypes2. (Occam-slashed datatypes)


Or alternatively by use of tidy syntax and tidy semantics at the abstract
level and a simple transform to add the bnode as we read the RDF/XML (from
my ...)

  ?x  ?y ?z
  where ?y != rdf:value and
        ?z a literal node

  replace with
  ?x ?y NewNode
  NewNode rdf:value ?z

  where NewNode is a newly minted bNode.

For example:

<a> <foo> "ss" .

is transformed to

<a> <foo> _:b.
_:b <rdf:value> "ss".

Received on Monday, 23 September 2002 04:35:16 UTC

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