Re: Order & meaning in a proposition

From: Eric Kaun <>
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 2004 20:29:33 GMT
Message-ID: <NqEcc.7518$>

"Dawn M. Wolthuis" <> wrote in message news:c4umqn$eh5$
> You are suggesting that narrowing down language to some subset of what has
> been conveyed before we store the data is better. It might be better for
> some aspects of communication, but does not bring with it all of the
> richness of the language that is being modeled.

What can, other than the language itself? Keep in mind that "rich" has negative as well as positive connotations - rich food tastes yummy but can cause disease. In particular it implies luxurious detail, which in an information system meant to be automated is no luxury, but just more that has to be interpreted. In short, it's placing ambiguity into the system in an attempt to short-shrift proper analysis. At least that's what it sounds like...

Think about communication problems anywhere, especially in the workplace. Do you really want to base computer systems on that? I thought part of their value was their objectivity and "intolerance" for such nonsense.

> What is conveyed in a
> proposition depends on both what is said and who is interpreting it and
> everything that hearer brings to the equation. The more we have the
> proposition stray from the original, the less it will have the same impact
> on the reader.

But if the "reader" is a computer system, what "impact" can it have? Certainly documents benefit from such duplication of the original verbiage... but I thought we were talking about automating information processing?

> Take this one step further and if someone writes up a
> document and we parse it apart, make a bunch of propositions from it, and
> generally fragment the document to the point where we cannot get that
> document back in the same way it came in, then we are apt to be conveying
> different set of information than the original document conveyed.

Perhaps, but processing the document in some way is usually predicated on decomposing it, rearranging its parts, and deriving "new" information from it. In cases where the original is important (and I can see where that might be the case), I suggest storing the original in the only form it can be stored: as a value of an attribute (for example, a Word document or an XML document - both textual types, nothing more).

> > That no longer reads like everyday language, because it is now being
> > precise about what it means, which everyday language does not as a
> > rule.
> But that lack of precision carries with it information too. Even if we do
> not "trap" the aspects of the language that are not precise, if we do our
> best to pass back the original propositions, in particular keeping the
> ordering of nouns in tact, then even if the software/dbms don't understand
> the subtleties, at least when we pass back the information to the reader
> have not lost such meaning just because we decided to explode the words
> an unordered structure.

So that's it - presenting it back to the reader is the value in this? If so, then you can imagine the need to pass the data back in a slightly different form - for example, passing back only some of the nodes of an XML document, those with text content. But that doesn't imply anything other than that those nodes are of a given type, and we're presenting that to the user. We still have to map those portions of the document that represent logical propositions to predicates, so that they can be handled by a program.

  • erk
Received on Tue Apr 06 2004 - 22:29:33 CEST

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