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Re: [ontolog-forum] What words mean

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 14:40:51 -0500
Message-id: <47B5EAC3.4000306@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rob and Pat,    (01)

Please note that "treating" something as random does not mean that
it *is* random.  It only means that for certain kinds of processing
the assumption of randomness happens to be a useful approximation.    (02)

RF> "Radar signal processing *theory* treats signals and noise as
 > being random, but with different probability distributions."
 > The natural language of which the Web chiefly consists behaves
 > in exactly this way.    (03)

Radar signals are definitely not random, and neither is NL text.
Certain kinds of algorithms might be useful for both, but a useful
algorithm for one purpose may be very bad for others.    (04)

PH> "Ambiguous" means having more than one possible meaning, or
 > having an indeterminate meaning.  This hasn't got anything to
 > do with compression, however.    (05)

I agree.  The word 'unstructured' is commonly used to distinguish
NL text from the highly organized structures in a database or
knowledge base.  That is a better choice than either 'random'
or 'ambiguous'.  However, there definitely is structure in NLs,
but it is highly flexible and modifiable.  Other terms that
might be used are 'dynamic', 'ad hoc', and 'fluid'.    (06)

I'd also point out that 'random' implies 'incompressible', but
'incompressible' does not imply 'random'.  For example, one might
encode 'yes' by a 1 bit and 'no' by a 0 bit.  That encoding is
incompressible, but that does not make it random.    (07)

John    (08)

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