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   RE: [xml-dev] What A Document Means

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Title: RE: [xml-dev] What A Document Means

As with many of these discussion, a great deal of energy and http tokens could be expended on trying to establish a "normative" definition of a document. I think this is destined to fail, since "What A Document Means" has an element of subjectivity to it. Whether I consider something a document and whether its "information set" is "complete" will inevitably depend a great deal on how (or if) I want to process it.

My shopping list scribbled on the back of an old java file listing is a document as far as I'm concerned, but a tad hard to categorize. Usually, I determine a lack of completeness in the information set it describes when there is no milk left at the supermarket, or when I get home and find I haven't got any toilet paper left. The implication seems to be that the complete information set includes all items currently in stock at the shop plus an inventory of the quantity of every item in my house that I use in my daily life. It all seems a bit open-ended (as indeed do I when the toilet paper runs out unexpectedly).

John Anderson
CTO BarbadosoftTM
The XML Management Company
+31 (0)20 750 7582 / +31 (0)6 55 347 448 / www.barbadosoft.com


-----Original Message-----
From: Bullard, Claude L (Len) [mailto:clbullar@ingr.com]
Sent: 01 April 2002 17:51
To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: [xml-dev] What A Document Means

In http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/docmeaning.html

we are given a one page attempt to define what "a document means".

First what a document is "on the web":

"A document on the Web is a stream of bits identified with a specific MIME type. The MIME type indicates to the processor how it may interpret the stream of bits to decompose it into a sequence of characters, for example, or a specific bitmap image."

So far so good.  That is a systemic definition.  There is a list with possible
solutions for determining in an "unambiguous way" what a document "means".
One possible answer is

"The document forms a complete information set. Although expensive in the general case, it's not entirely unreasonable to imagine applications that examine an entire information set."

Can someone explain this?  What is an "information set" and how does
one determine "completeness" for two ends of a single transaction or communication?


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