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Re: [ontolog-forum] Case realtions as Practical Semantic Primitives - wa

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 10 Aug 2013 01:00:10 -0400
Message-id: <5205C8DA.7080309@xxxxxxxxxxx>
John,    (01)

> true enough and the historical notes are useful; but if we play the
> historical precedent game too far we probably always end up back with
> the same usual suspects.    (02)

My main reason for trying to keep the history straight is that many
of the old timers did more than anticipate the later results.  They
often provide a perspective with important insights into the issues.    (03)

The second reason is to give credit where credit is due -- or not.    (04)

> the so-called Davidsonian approach (or the Neo-Davidsonian approach
> that folks actually use these days) is not only its quantifying
> over events, nor its identifying of generalised actant roles for
> the relations between events and participants in the events, but
> its basis for a rigorously specified compositional semantics closely
> linking surface form and semantic interpretation.    (05)

By the 1930s, the logicians had developed "rigorously specified
compositional semantics closely linking surface form and semantic
interpretation."  Tarski's model theory, Godel's recursive functions,
Church's lambda calculus, and Turing's automata became the foundation
for computer science.    (06)

When computers became widely available, the programming language
community developed those techniques further.  One person who deserves
more credit is Peter Lucas, who invented recursive descent in 1961.
He mapped each BNF rule to a recursive function in Algol and wrote
the semantic mapping for that rule in the body of the function:    (07)

Lucas, Peter (1961) The structure of formula translators, Algol
Bulletin Supplement 16, 1-27, September 1961.    (08)

For a summary of the state of the art of NLP in 1961, look at
the articles in http://www.mt-archive.info/NPL-1961-TOC.htm    (09)

Terry Winograd used recursive descent for his parser for the
SHRDLU version of English in 1971.  Bill Woods also defined
a compositional semantics for English in his dissertation
of 1967, and he used it for his English query language
about moon rocks a few years later.    (010)

In 1965, Peter Landin published "A correspondence between Algol 60
and Church's Lambda Calculus":    (011)

http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~feeley/cours/ift6232/doc/a-correspondence-between-algol-60-and-churchs-lambda-notation.pdf    (012)

Around that time, Landin collaborated with Dana Scott and Christopher
Strachey to develop their denotational semantics for programming
languages.  That work was fully compositional and far more detailed
than Montague's 37-word "fragment" of English a few years later.    (013)

Montague popularized the lambda calculus and his version of
intensional logic among the philosophers.  But methods of NLP
were very well developed without their help.  Montague's
student Hans Kamp had a strong influence on computational
methods.  But if Davidson had never published anything
about events, the development of NLP was well established
without his help.    (014)

In my own publications, I do cite Davidson when I talk about events,
but I wouldn't name any particular method after him.    (015)

John    (016)

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