[unrev-II] Tr: [xtm-wg] historical perspective about graphs

From: Bernard Vatant (universimmedia@wanadoo.fr)
Date: Fri Mar 23 2001 - 07:16:23 PST

  • Next message: Jack Park: "[unrev-II] A view of bootstraping with OHS"

    I think this message could be of some interest on this list too ...
    Sorry for duplicate for those who are also on xtm-wg list ...

    > Since we are in the "Big Picture" debate I'd like to add a little
    > perspective to Jean's intervention.
    > What computers' people call "interoperability" is called in other older
    > fields of science : "unification".
    > The first known unification happened in Physics when Newton proposed an
    > unique frame for terrestrial and celestial movements.
    > What is generally stressed about that is that he was the first one to have
    > the idea that they could be unified, against all previous prevailing
    > paradigms. What is less stressed but surely as important, and IMO even
    > is that he forged a new mathematical tool - now called calculus - to do
    > that. Without that formal mathematical new tool, the idea would have
    > remained just a brilliant idea.
    > This very tool turned out to be very powerful indeed, since it was used to
    > unify afterwards in 19th century electromagnetism and thermodynamics. If
    > know what is a differential, you can understand mechanics and
    > electromagnetism and thermodynamics.
    > Computer Science is very young compared with Physics. It has developed in
    > great variety of ways, and mainly around specific technologies and ad hoc
    > languages. It now calls for unification. Topic Maps are a good conceptual
    > step towards that. So is XML, and RDF etc ... My hunch is that, like in
    > Physics, unification will be gained through some federating mathematical
    > tools, and first in line of these candidate tools is the Graph Theory.
    > markup people around there don't care much for getting involved in graph
    > theory, no more than some graph mathematicians care much about XML - but
    > both of them should indeed care. One thing is sure : graph theory is the
    > older one, and is here to stay. Not sure any present syntax will still be
    > around in 2020. But graph models will still be there.
    > A last thing : unification was never easy for anybody. People had to
    > and learn these new tools. But they were damned worth it in the long run!
    > Do you think Newton should have stopped war with Leibniz about calculus,
    > saying "well, forget it, there will never be more than a few dozen people
    > understanding that stuff anyway". That was about the number of people
    > understanding what it was at the time. Now it's used dayly by maybe over a
    > million scientists and technicians and engineers all over the world.
    > And I think in terms of productivity, gathering energy around graph
    > and graph processing, and graph representation, and graph query etc, will
    > much more rewarding than building one new syntax every other six months,
    > then struggling to interoperate the syntax, and getting to endless wars on
    > the MySyntaxIsBetterThanYours battlefield ...
    > Have a nice day
    > <ondutyepistemologist> Bernard </ondutyepistemologist>

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