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Develop a theory of one's data prior to developing a data model(XML vocabulary)?

Hi Folks,

Is there a theory of data? I don't mean things like relational database theory. I mean theories for domains of data.

For example, is there a theory for Book data? Is there a theory for Cellphone data? Is there a theory for Location data? Is there a theory for Aircraft Flight Procedures data?

Assertion: in any area of endeavor, having an underlying theory is important. Without an underlying theory there are no guides to implementations and the developers are left in charge, making stuff up. 

Example of an area of endeavor that has benefitted enormously from a rich body of theory: The benefit of using a (context-free) grammar to define a language is there is a slew of grammar checkers/parser generators (LL(1), LALR(1), GLR, etc.) that will tell you if there is an analysis algorithm and if not why not. If you step outside the Formal Language grammars you're basically on your own (flailing in the wind, making stuff up).

Suppose that I want to create an XML vocabulary for, say, Aircraft Flight Procedures. As just noted, regardless of what XML vocabulary I might choose, I can express the structure using a (context-free) grammar and thereby benefit from the theory of grammars to implement a parser for the Aircraft Flight Procedures data. But what about the data itself, is there theory to guide me in the development of a consistent and complete set of data for Aircraft Flight Procedures? 

What would a theory of Aircraft Flight Procedures look like? How would such a theory guide in the development of a set of data and a data model for Aircraft Flight Procedures? Should a theory of Aircraft Flight Procedures data be developed before embarking on the creation of a data model (an XML vocabulary)?

Can we turn the creation of data models and XML vocabularies into a science?


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