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Re: [ontolog-forum] OaSM - Incompleteness Is Overrated; Completeness con

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 07 Dec 2009 04:17:47 -0500
Message-id: <4B1CC83B.8080804@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rich and Chris M.,    (01)

Those claims about incompleteness and completeness are highly
misleading and confusing.  They are every bit as confused as
telling people that they have to restrict the expressive power
of their languages in order to achieve efficiency.    (02)

RC>> So the notion of incompleteness seems to be almost archaic
 >> in modern systems...    (03)

CM> The practical upshot of incompleteness  or, perhaps more to the
 > point, undecidability  is an interesting and complex issue.  But...
 > to say the notion itself is "archaic" is like saying the notion of
 > a prime number is archaic...    (04)

I completely agree with Chris.  But I'd like to add the point that
all of our major programming languages are undecidable in the sense
that it's impossible, in general, to prove that an arbitrary program
written in Java, C, etc., will ever terminate.    (05)

However, programmers have very effective methodologies for writing
programs in ways that control the complexity.  There are methods
of "structured programming", "design patterns", and many other
named methodologies that enable programmers to use very expressive
languages in efficient and reliable ways.    (06)

It is true that if you give somebody a very expressive language
of any kind -- Java, C, first-order logic, or even English -- and
don't give them any guidance on what to do with it, they are likely
to do or say something stupid.    (07)

But the solution is not to restrict the language.  Instead, give
them some guidance.  Teach them some suitable techniques and
methodologies.  Provide tools that guide them toward better ways
of using the language.  Or give them a library of prepackaged
routines that do what they need to do.    (08)

But the stupidest thing to keep people stupid and to "dumb down"
the language to their level.    (09)

John Sowa    (010)


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