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Re: [xml-dev] Caught napping!

Dan Weinreb wrote:

> Personally I think this "mathematical underpinning" business is often
> invoked with a mystical aura, lacking a good explanation of what the
> benefit of said underpinning is.  I use Microsoft Word and Emacs every
> day, and they don't have any mathematical underpinning, and somehow it
> never seems to bother me.  What illness is XML suffering from that
> somehow would be healed by a "mathematical underpinning"?

Consider W3C XML Schemas vs. RELAX-NG.  (I don't think
anything more needs to be said here :-)

I think the issue is more about having a strong formal
specification than being overtly mathematical _per se_
(although the best specs do have a strong mathematical feel to them).
Of the W3C specs that I'm familiar with, the areas
that seem to have the highest degree of interoperability
between tools are the ones where there is a solid theoretical
model and a concrete formal spec.

The RDF M&S REC is another example. It has a well-defined data 
model, but the mapping from XML documents _into_ that data model 
was defined with an inaccurate EBNF grammar and a lot of handwaving.  
The RDF WG is redoing this part, and the current draft 
is a _huge_ improvement. 

> If you want to read a really good book on data modelling, I recommend
> "Data And Reality: Basic Assumptions in Data Processing Reconsidered"
> by William Kent.

Thanks for the pointers...