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Re: [ontolog-forum] n-ary vs binary

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 12:38:15 -0800
Message-id: <20090211203853.7247D138D09@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Hi Matthew, 


Matthew West wrote:


Dear Rich,


>[MW] Dear PatC,


>So is:



-          By Pat

-          Of Book23

-          To Mary1256

-          On 20090214Z-5


>So much harder to cope with?


Generalizing, are you postulating use of a few words (by, of, to, on, …), perhaps

exactly the set of prepositions, as an NLP representation of binary relationships

to process sentences? 


Aren’t there cases where the preposition itself has multiple meanings?  For “of”:


The book of Mark

The Duke of Windsor

Sort of like a bird

Lots of biscuits

A cause of global warming


These examples seem to display a diversity of meanings.  Why would your

approach make it easy to handle these relationships?  Similar concerns

about the other prepositions would also surface IMHO after analysis. 



[MW] I was just being lazy. If I were working this out properly (as we have in ISO 15926) I would have a set of role terms that were properly defined. I was only trying to make a point about understandability of the binary form, which need be no harder than an n-ary form if you present it sensibly.




Matthew West                           


The “understandability” issue is key here.  In a commercial project, the entire team must have nearly identical understanding of the meaning at issue.  If one uses a preposition “of” as a link in a database relation, all members of the team must have the same meaning in mind to be able to use it.  The team won’t have time to philosophize on the words, and they will almost certainly want to use a previously existing ontology, even if it is small.  So using polysemous prepositions won’t work well in that ecosystem.  Instead, a single sense meaning must be defined for each link word. 


That’s why I don’t think using binary forms has the same expressive power as the signature, such as

give( Donor, Thing, Recipient) where give is essentially monosemous (Sp?). 






Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com


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