Re: [unrev-II] DKR/OHS: 5 Authoring Requirements

From: Jack Park (
Date: Mon Feb 21 2000 - 18:56:09 PST

From: "Jack Park" <>

Dang! I forward what I was supposed to respond to.
Here goes.
----- Original Message -----
From: Eric Armstrong <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 6:03 PM
Subject: Re: [unrev-II] DKR/OHS: 5 Authoring Requirements

> From: Eric Armstrong <>
> Jack Park wrote:
> >
> > I'd pay attention to the OML/CKML stuff on the web
> > That appears to be category-theoretic in nature, quite
> > possibly capable of allowing for knowledge bases of the relational
> > kind, those capable of representing truly complex systems.
> > To follow that idea further, you might want to look up the many
> > papers by Robert Rosen...
> >
> Which idea was that that Robert Rosen's papers look at:
> * category-theoretic models
> * relational knowledge bases
> * represenations of complex systems
> * all of the above?

Robert Rosen followed his teacher N. Raschevsky at Chicago in the 50's with
the idea of a Relational Biology. Raschevsky pointed out (he's one of the
father's of mathematical biology) that whilst we were surely able to take
apart a living cell, we were not any closer to putting one together for all
the reduction we were doing. In short, reductionist thinking was not going
to provide the answers we were looking for.

Ultimately, Rosen took that out to the level of a mathematics of the
relations amongst components. He brings back the 4 Aristotelian causalities
and ties everything together with category theory. The book, Life Itself
(and a new one published just after his death, Essays on Life Itself)
discusses and develops this mathematics. At least, it develops it to the
level of a theoretical understanding. Nobody, to my knowledge, has managed
yet to map his thinking to, say, the mathematics of a single-celled animal.
There's a helluva lot of thinking going on in that direction, however.
Raschevsky started with graph theory, graduated to organismic set theory,
then passed away. Rosen took that work to category theory.

The more I read, the more I discover that things really are related, and it
is the mathematics of those relations that jumps beyond my level of
mathematical maturity. Simple relational algebra seems a place to start,
but discovering the topology of those relations is something else again.

How, then, does this short ramble tie in with the bootstrap group? As I see
it, if reductionist thinking isn't going to get us there, perhaps we ought
to explore whatever it is that will. I respectfully submit that Rosen's
thinking does, indeed, open some doors not yet explored.

All of the above :-)

Jack Park

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