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Re: Pizza Example

From: Dawn M. Wolthuis <>
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2004 17:54:53 -0500
Message-ID: <c4so4g$dle$>

"Anthony W. Youngman" <> wrote in message
> In message <RGicc.3033$>, Eric Kaun
> <> writes
> >I'm not asking for proof, since such is very difficult and expensive to
> >acquire, but my experience suggests the opposite. The more "natural"
> >approach of XML leads to chaos - data out of sync with no constraints to
> >tell you, difficult debugging before you realize the Doc1 node 3 levels
> >is out of sync with the top-level node of Doc2 in a different place, etc.
> >see absolutely no reason to use the natural structure of language for
> >anything other than communicating with business people. Logic and
> >mathematics are the basis of most works of engineering, and yet most
> >laypeople don't understand them. I would prefer that people building
> >instruments and weapon systems NOT use language that I'm capable of
> >understanding in their designs - that would make me immediately
> >that they're making it simpler than is feasible for good design.
> Somebody gave me a wonderful quote recently. "Logic and mathematics give
> you a consistent model. Academicians have an unfortunate tendency to
> confuse consistency with truth."

Yes, so true! A mathematical model is a MODEL -- a metaphor. As someone once said, "all models are flawed, but some are useful". Each data model I have seen has some aspects which make it useful and some which are not as helpful. Looking at the benefits and deficits of various models makes sense, but if we are to anoint one as THE model (which our profession has somewhat done with the relational model), we should be very careful we don't go and apply the theory of relativity to very small objects (an analogy) -- we should use it where it is useful. From what I can see, the relational model is not close enough to a generalized TOE (theory of everything) for data that we should stop reviewing other options.

I was in the middle of another post that relates to language when I saw your quote here and it fits nicely with that so I could just jump into that topic here, but instead I'll just agree with the comment and note that it seems likely that we need not just mathematics and logic, but also language in our discussions of data. Cheers!

> As for you being worried if you could understand engineers or doctors -
> I'm sorry, but I don't see why I should assume that other people are
> better than me. If I can't understand (at least superficially) what
> they're doing, then I conclude they are either crap at explaining
> themselves or, worse, they don't understand themselves. And I'm sorry if
> I'm cynical, but I've had enough experience of various professions (and
> from my own research) to know that people are very good seeing what they
> want, and not seeing what they don't want. I don't trust "experts". Far
> too many of them wear blinkers :-(
> Cheers,
> Wol
> --
> Anthony W. Youngman - wol at thewolery dot demon dot co dot uk
> HEX wondered how much he should tell the Wizards. He felt it would not be
> good idea to burden them with too much input. Hex always thought of his
> as Lies-to-People.
> The Science of Discworld : (c) Terry Pratchett 1999
Received on Mon Apr 05 2004 - 17:54:53 CDT

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