Re: why hierarchy?

From: JOG <>
Date: 26 Jul 2006 10:21:28 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Bob Badour wrote:
> JOG wrote:
> > I spoke in a recent thread of my distaste for XML from a theoretical
> > standpoint (nevermind the processing overhead of using an XML parser
> > within any even vaguely time critical application). Well I wanted to
> > highlight why I made the statement. Below are 4 examples of recent
> > quotes concerning XML databases from academia, nevermind the business
> > world:
> >
> > "XML is capable of holding information that is far richer in structure
> > than the rows and columns of a relational database. If you don't feel
> > that rows-and-columns are constraining you then either you don't really
> > need XML at all, or you've become locked into a way of thinking that
> > because tables are the only thing you can store, tables must be what
> > users want."
> > - Michael Kay, xsl-list mailing list
> >
> > "In the wild (that is, in documents, reports, and program data
> > structures as they are encountered in daily life), information takes
> > forms rather different from third normal form. XML arose from efforts
> > to represent documents in a device- and application-independent way,
> > and it reflects the complexity of documents and their stubborn refusal
> > to fit into tabular form."
> > - C. M. Sperberg-Mcqueen, ACM Queue 2005
> >
> > "The popular schema languages are generally too simplistic to model the
> > increasingly complex and dynamic information structures. Because of
> > this mismatch, in some cases, even if schemas exist, the result is
> > unfortunately the same as in the previous cases: "rich structure" often
> > translates in practice to "no structure." For example, the commonly
> > used relational and object-oriented schema languages lack adequate
> > support for describing alternative structures (e.g., authors or editors
> > for books), and for conditional and correlated structures."
> > - Daniela Florescu, ACM Queue 2005
> >
> > "In XML, data can have an elaborate and intricate structure that is
> > significantly richer and more complex than a table of rows and columns.
> > Calling this semi-structured is misleading, just as it would be to
> > describe DNA molecules as semi-structured because they are less simply
> > regular than those of table salt. XML seeks to make possible capturing
> > and expressing the structure of the data as we understand it, without
> > forcing it into a too-simple structure."
> > - C. M. Sperberg-Mcqueen, ACM Queue 2005
> >
> > The last 3 are from a top notch publication, and I find this return of
> > focus to hierarchical models since 1995 extremely frustrating.
> These are not the first idiots who managed to get published by a
> 'respectable' publication. Heck, that idiot Won Kim was the ACM SIGMOD
> Chair, which tells me that ACM is no less prone to chase dayflies than
> any other organization.

Yes, I'm in agreeance with Doug Engelbart - the peer review mechanism can often be of debatable merit.

> Addressing the idiocy above, the complexity and richness of the data are
> inherent to the data remaining with it no matter the representation.
> Increasing the complexity of the representing structures only increases
> complexity without adding any 'richness' at all. 'Richness' comes from
> the available operations for manipulating data represented in those
> structures, which are greatly reduced as the structural complexity
> increases.

The comments on XML being able to handle information "Richness" that a predicate based model (such as the RM) could not annoyed me more than anything else in the quotations. I can only think that the term is used by XML proponents due to its ambiguity. Received on Wed Jul 26 2006 - 19:21:28 CEST

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