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   RE: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML Really Extensib

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  • To: "Bullard, Claude L \(Len\)" <clbullar@ingr.com>,<xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Subject: RE: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML Really Extensible?
  • From: "Dare Obasanjo" <dareo@microsoft.com>
  • Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2003 14:19:57 -0700
  • Thread-index: AcNhD6p/DNU7tcZrT7aBHgWmjiX7swABtK8w
  • Thread-topic: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML Really Extensible?

My personal opinion is that this is an unsolvable problem especially by
RDF. However if you think you have a solution I have two "Turing tests"
that a proposed solution should be able to handle described at 

Eat right, Exercise, Die anyway.

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bullard, Claude L (Len) [mailto:clbullar@ingr.com] 
> Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 1:23 PM
> To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML 
> Really Extensible?
> Noting the articles from Tim Bray [1] and Jon Udell [2], 
> knowing as most here do that the winking and nudging over 
> namespace semantic assignments is really just the next level 
> of semantic assignment to XML productions in general, it 
> seems that now is a good time to discuss means for this.
> I agree with Tim that XML is a name/label/structure system 
> and as such, doesn't care much about this debate. However, 
> that simply says the developer has to care, so we still have 
> to face up to the symbol grounding problem elaborated in 
> detail by Charles Peirce in his papers on semiotics over a 
> hundred years ago and clarified in the works of John Sowa.  
> Harnad [3] explains it satisfactorily in terms of AI 
> approaches including combining connection systems (eg, neural 
> netws) with symbol systems.  All good background, but there 
> are other approaches and we should explore these.  
> In short, clearly namespaces enable composability at the 
> syntactic level.  Just as clearly, many combinations are 
> meaningless.  As Harnad says when defining systematicity:
> "The patterns of interconnections do not decompose, combine 
> and recombine according to a formal syntax that can be given 
> a systematic semantic interpretation."
> So in effect, we can create namespace aggregates which are 
> not systematic. So via namespaces, any set of XML application 
> productions (by which I mean, a production from HTML, from 
> SVG, from X3D, or XSLT) can be combined and be syntactically 
> correct.  
> How can one determine:
> 1.  If a given combination is meaningful 2.  How to discover 
> that meaning 3.  How to assign that combination or even a single 
>     production to a running piece of code
> Item three is where the rubber meets the road.
> a.  Does RDF address these questions?
> b.  Is it better for worse particulary for item 3 
>     than say using stylesheet assignments c.  Are other 
> approaches such as abstract 
>     object models as good or better than RDF for 
>     writing the rules of a semantically valid 
>     combination?
> Next, is it desirable or workable that any arbitrary 
> combination of XML productions from any language be 
> meaningful?  I think the answer here is no and leads back to 1.
> I think this an important topic because it touches on issues 
> such as when should two application language working groups 
> seek convergence, can we create XML application languages 
> that don't set of IP tripwires by ensuring implementations 
> based on IP aren't a part of the language definition, should 
> we begin to classify semantically valid XML production 
> combinations, and where in that will standardization impede 
> innovation, is it really a good idea to use a standard 
> namespace name to point to running code?
> len
> [1] http://tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/08/11/SymbolGrounding
> [2] http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/08/11.html#a775
> [3] 
> http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Papers/Harnad/harnad90.sgpr
> oblem.html
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