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Re: RDF people, please define "surface syntax" and "concrete syntax"


As used in these articles, the terms are synonymous.  The first article, by Pat Hayes, explains why you might want to separately talk about an abstract syntax (in the case of RDF, the graphs), and a surface or concrete syntax (RDF/XML, Turtle, etc.;  the ways you might encode those graphs for presentation to a computer).  The distinction between abstract and concrete syntaxes comes from programming languages;  these ideas were not developed specifically for RDF.  The RDF specifications themselves tend to use "concrete" rather than "surface" (except for one reference to "surface" in Semantics).


On Feb 20, 2012, at 7:49 AM, Costello, Roger L. wrote:

> Hi Folks,
> I see usage of the terms "surface syntax" and "concrete syntax" in multiple RDF articles, e.g.,
>    The RDF graph syntax is in several important respects simpler than any surface syntax, 
>    and makes possible a very simple and straightforward - almost elementary - approach 
>    to some surface-syntactic issues which are notoriously troublesome to get exactly right, 
>    especially the issue of bound name scopes. [1]
> and
>    In this section we present an RDF concrete syntax for the rules. It is straightforward to 
>    provide such an RDF concrete syntax for rules, but the presence of variables in rules 
>    goes beyond the RDF Semantics. [2]
> Would someone from the RDF community please define "surface syntax" and "concrete syntax"?
> /Roger
> [1] http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes/RDFGraphSyntax.html
> [2] http://www.daml.org/2004/04/swrl/rdfsyntax.html 

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