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Re: [ontolog-forum] Last Call: OWL 2 and rdf:text primitive datatype

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2009 12:23:44 -0400
Message-id: <49F5DC10.8000603@xxxxxxxx>
Randall R Schulz wrote:    (01)

> The answer is that the Simula 67 specification was published in 1967.
> History matters.    (02)

To some of us.  Regrettably, this axiom has never been taught in 
computer science curricula.  The percentage of computer science graduate 
students who are incapable of searching the literature that is not 
available online in PDF form must now be well over 75%, judging from the 
papers I have read.    (03)

Yes, the concept of abstract types in programming languages goes back to 
1967 and Simula, and I have not been able to identify any earlier 
published programming language that has a formal concept of abstract 
type (including a search of Jean Sammet's survey, published in 1968-9).    (04)

Now, computer science has borrowed and then redefined terms from several 
branches of mathematics and engineering, and come up with a few invented 
terms as well (sometimes by ignorance of linguistics and orthography, 
e.g., "hexadecimal" and "kernal").  It seems to me to be the case, 
however, that most disciplines do this in creating their jargon -- 
borrow and redefine, or invent.  And therefore, unlike John, I can't 
fault software engineering for having chosen "class" as the term for 
"abstract type", regardless of the usage in other disciplines.    (05)

I do fault software engineers for failing to distinguish abstract types 
in programming (and other implementation) languages from the concepts 
and views -- the intellectual abstractions -- that they represent.  It 
is _that_ confusion about what "class" means, which was _deliberately_ 
promulgated by several O-O apostles, that produces most of the confused, 
confusing and simply erroneous utterances.  We really must teach 
knowledge engineers to distinguish the intellectual models from the 
software models ("ontologies") and to distance themselves from software 
engineers who cannot do that.    (06)

We now know that language affects our ability to conceptualize, as well 
as our ability to communicate concepts.  But when we allow an 
implementation language -- a formal language -- to affect our ability to 
conceptualize, we are abandoning the essence of science in our engineering.    (07)

-Ed    (08)

P.S. In the above, I count 3 of my favorite soapboxes.  So that should 
be enough for the week.  ;-)    (09)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (010)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (011)

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