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RE: RDF Abstract Syntax: a strawman

From: Jonathan Borden <jborden@mediaone.net>
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 23:38:24 -0400
To: "Drew McDermott" <drew.mcdermott@yale.edu>, <www-rdf-logic@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000101c0e595$5162a140$0201a8c0@ne.mediaone.net>
Drew McDermott wrote:

> I am getting confused about what the symbol "RDF" encompasses.
> Jonathan Borden proposes an "abstract syntax" for
> RDF. (http://www.openhealth.org/RDF/RDFAbstractSyntax.html#RDF-MS)
> I am not sure what makes it an abstract syntax, but that's not
> important; the important thing is that it defines a language that
> violates the usual rules about RDF documents being collections of
> triples.  That's because he proposes that they be considered
> collections of 6-tuples, one of whose components is a boolean saying
> whether the 6-tuple should be considered to be asserted or used in
> some other way.  I think this is a big improvement on the triples
> model.

I started to write down some thoughts on why I thought RDF triples were a
good thing.

What I realized after listening to alot of this discussion, and reading my
own conclusion at the end of that short article, was that the fact that RDF
is encoded as _triples_ is not important, rather what is important is that
RDF can be encoded in a single relational table. That is, it provides a
simple flattening mechanism for a bunch of possibly disparate documents.

So triple, septuple, no big deal. It is still really simple compared with
'full' XML 'Grove' or even the XML Infoset. The fallback position is that
many things can be encoded using an XML abstract syntax and by abstract
syntax I loosely mean the internal structure a document is parsed into, the
same whether the document has a surface syntax of N3 or RDF XML. If we can
get this down to a single relational table, I think we should be able to
create RDF datastores on Palms and on up.

> Anyway, if we're going to "let a hundred flowers bloom" when it comes
> to RDF extensions, then I've got to go water my garden.

It gets me really frustrated listening to seemingly endless arguments about
the same things. What I have tried to do is listen to what I think are the
salient points and come up with an encoding that can represent both the
current RDF XML syntax, what I hope will become an official simplified
syntax, as well as some concepts from the most recent N3 (e.g. contexts and
parseType="quote"). It still encodes arcs or predicates, but whether they
are as 3 or 6 or 7-tuples is not relevent as long as we can come to some
sort of agreement and move on to the more important topics (i.e. semantics).

So, there's food for thought on the table, and I'm also off to water my
garden this weekend :-)

Received on Friday, 25 May 2001 23:39:31 UTC

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