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Re: [ontolog-forum] predicates in RDF

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2008 22:25:32 -0500
Message-id: <477B042C.6090704@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Paola,    (01)

There are many different traditions with different terminologies
that have discussed issues of language and logic over the centuries.
People have been freely borrowing words from different traditions
and mixing them in very confusing ways.    (02)

> I was reading this yesterday
> http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-rdf-syntax/
> # e subject is the URL http://www.example.org/index.html
> # the predicate is the word "creator"
> # the object is the phrase "John Smith"
> I my world (linguistic) this sounds wrong
> why would RDF not reflect/embed/support a basic rule of linguistic semantics?
> is the question ill posed, or is RDF ill posed, in this respect?    (03)

Of all the groups, the W3C is the most heterogeneous, and they have
borrowed more words from more traditions than any of the others.
As a result, their words tend to be the most confusing.    (04)

I'll sort them out a bit:    (05)

  1. The oldest tradition begins with Aristotle's Greek and the medieval
     Scholastics, who translated Aristotle's terminology into Latin.
     Most of the Scholastic terminology (with slight changes of endings,
     such as English 'predicate' from Latin 'praedicatum') has been
     absorbed into the western European languages.    (06)

  2. Although there are syntactic differences between Aristotle's version
     and the Scholastic versions, they have basically the same expressive
     power.  All predicates have only one argument, and every statement
     has two predicates, one quantifier, and a copula.  The syllogism
     named Barbara, for example, would be, in Aristotle's version:    (07)

        If B is predicated of all A,
        and C is predicated of all B,
        then C is predicated of all A.    (08)

     In the Scholastic version, it would be    (09)

        All A is B.
        All B is C.
        Therefore, All A is C.    (010)

  3. Boole developed his algebraic notation in the mid 1800s, and used
     the same symbols and connectives for propositions, sets, and
     monadic predicates.  He had no predicates or relations with more
     than 1 argument.    (011)

  4. In 1870, Peirce made a major breakthrough by developing an algebra
     with both dyadic and monadic 'relatives', as he called them.
     De Morgan called that paper the greatest advance since Boole.    (012)

  5. Frege in 1879 and Peirce in 1880 and 1885 developed full first
     order logic with predicates, relations, or relatives with 1 or more
     arguments.  Peirce later extended his relatives to allow 0 or more
     arguments -- a relative with 0 arguments represented a proposition.    (013)

  6. Meanwhile various people were developing theories of sets or
     collections.  The best developed was Cantor's version, which became
     the basis for all modern set theories.  However, the word 'class'
     was also used, sometimes as a synonym for set and sometimes for
     more general things that were "too big" to be normal sets.    (014)

  7. When people started to design computer systems and languages,
     some of them had a strong background in math & logic and adopted
     the terminology used by the logicians (which was more or less
     consistent, but different authors had their own variations).
     But others used words in very different ways. (There is still
     lots of confusion over the words 'type', 'sort', 'set', and
     'class'.)    (015)

  8. In linguistics, people adopted words from logic (Scholastic
     and modern) as well as words from various programming languages.    (016)

  9. In artificial intelligence, people adopted words from all of
     the above, together with words that the linguists had adopted
     from some of the same sources, but with some changes of meaning,
     which became further changed in various ways.    (017)

10. Finally, the large number of cooks working on different aspects
     of the W3C languages adopted words from all of the above sources
     and threw them into the same pot.    (018)

My recommendation would be to throw out as much of the terminology
as possible.  In arithmetic, for example, people would use lots of
words for the parts of an equation, such as    (019)

     6 - 2 = 4    (020)

and they would say that 6 is the _minuend_, 2 is the _subtrahend_, and
4 is the _difference_.  Today, they just say "six minus two is four".    (021)

John    (022)

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