Re: [unrev-II] Fwd: Fw: Re: [PORT-L] Goguen's Semiotic Morphisms

From: Matt Placek (
Date: Sun Apr 01 2001 - 03:13:18 PDT

  • Next message: Bernard Vatant: "[unrev-II] Announcement : Semantopic Map Beta html release" writes:
    >Don't let all the fancy words hold you back. This paper is worth at
    >reading the Introduction.

    ... A quick thought after reviewing the introduction (wish I had time to
    read the full text of all the great articles and papers out there, there's
    just so much info and so little time... sigh)

    Many of the approaches to building ontologies seem to be fixated on a
    'present-tense' description of the nature of things. For instance, his
    graph showing the associationg 'cow gives meat' is not really an accurate
    association, in the sense that no cow (at least none that I know)
    willingly 'give' meat, but the process involves an actual _change_ in the
    nature of the cow. It may be more accurate to say that 'cow + slaughter =
    meat' which is an entirely different relationship, in which the action
    changes the graph entirely by (possibly) reclassifying the cow under the
    relation of 'is-a animal' to 'is food'.

    The issue here obviously is not the slaughter of cows, but how do we
    express the principles by which an entity changes as it is manipulated
    over time? Take for example the association, 'house is red'. But if the
    house is painted, this causes a change in the attribute of the house's
    color form red to, say, green.

    If we have the concept of building knowledge bases with an "SDS-like"
    system as a front end for entering new knowledge, the change of the
    knowledge content over time is an integral part of the system... How do we
    record the relations of cause and effect between actions which have been
    taken over time and the changes in attributes and classifications of the
    entites within the system? It seems this might be integrally bound up
    with some sort of versioning or history within the topic-mapping of the

    It seems there is a lot of interest in topic maps and RDF type
    descriptions for present tense description of the nature of things, but do
    these mechanisms adequately address the integration of history, preserving
    the cause-and-effect which changes the nature of the reality these things

    Just wondering what folks out there are thinking -- (btw, thanks to
    everybody on this list for all the fantastic food for thought over the few
    months i've been lurking)


    >>----- Original Message -----
    >>From: marty <>
    >>Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2001 8:52 AM
    >>Subject: Re: [PORT-L] Goguen's Semiotic Morphisms
    >>I am working also with semiotic morphisms, categories, functors, natural
    >>transformations of functors and lattices...
    >>Robert Marty
    >>Professeur en Sciences de l'Information et de la Communication à
    >>l'Université de Perpignan
    >>WAP :
    >> > -----Message d'origine-----
    >> > la part de John F. Sowa
    >> > Envoyé : vendredi 30 mars 2001 20:45
    >> > Objet : Re: [PORT-L] Goguen's Semiotic Morphisms
    >> >
    >> >
    >> > Jon,
    >> >
    >> > That reference you suggested,
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >
    >> > led me to a paper by Joe Goguen on semiotic morphisms:
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >
    >> > My meaning-preserving translations, which we have recently
    >> > been discussing are a species of the genus, semiotic morphisms:
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >
    >> > And Alonzo Church's rules for lambda conversion are also
    >> > a species of the genus semiotic morphisms:
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >
    >> > Following is an excerpt from Goguen's paper, which discusses
    >> > related applications to user interfaces and other applications.
    >> > Goguen's approach to algebraic semiotics looks like a useful
    >> > way of formalizing the axioms about signs and sign systems.
    >> >
    >> > John Sowa
    >> > ______________________________________________________________
    >> >
    >> > We now turn to our primary concern, which is the movement
    >> > (translation, interpretation,
    >> > representation) of signs from one
    >> > system into signs in another system. Generating a satisfactory
    >> > explanation or
    >> > a good "icon" (in the informal sense used for
    >> > computer graphics), choosing a good file name or a good analogy,
    >> > and understanding
    >> > metaphors, explanations, graphics,
    >> > and multimedia texts, are all problems of translating signs from
    >> > one system
    >> > to another, as is the problem of using a
    >> > mixture of media to present a given content in an optimal way. In
    >> > these cases,
    >> > we know about signs in the source system,
    >> > and we seek to find a suitable target system and mapping that
    >> > will preserve
    >> > the information of interest in an optimal way.
    >> > A converse situation is also often encountered, in which we know
    >> > about the target
    >> > sign system, and seek to infer
    >> > properties of signs in the source system from their images in the
    >> > target system.
    >> > This occurs, for example, when we try to
    >> > understand a poem, an equation, or indeed, anything at all.
    >> >
    >> > We address questions about the nature of translations between
    >> > sign systems,
    >> > and the reasons for preferring one translation
    >> > to another, by studying maps from signs in one system to
    >> > "representation" signs
    >> > in another system. These maps are called
    >> > semiotic morphisms, and are made very precise in Definition 2 of
    >> > the paper [8a].
    >> > These handle metaphors, analogies,
    >> > etc., as well as representations in the more familiar user
    >> > interface design
    >> > sense. Just as we defined sign systems as
    >> > theories rather than models, so their mappings translate from the
    >> > language of
    >> > one sign system to the language of another,
    >> > instead of just translating the concrete signs in a model. If
    >> > this sounds a
    >> > bit indirect - well, it is; but it has advantages over
    >> > a model based approach to representations (see the discussion on
    >> > page 7 of [8a]).
    >> >
    >> >
    >> > A good semiotic morphism should preserve as much of the structure
    >> > of its source
    >> > sign system as possible. Certainly it
    >> > should map sorts to sorts, subsorts to subsorts, data sorts to
    >> > data sorts, constants
    >> > to constants, constructors to
    >> > constructors, etc. But it turns out that in many real world
    >> > examples, not everything
    >> > can be preserved. So we must allow
    >> > all these maps to be partial. Axioms should also be preserved -
    >> > but again in
    >> > practice, sometimes not all axioms are
    >> > preserved. The extent to which things are preserved provides a
    >> > way of comparing
    >> > the quality of semiotic morphisms (this
    >> > is the point of Definition 3 in [8a]).
    >> >
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    Matt Placek
    Software Engineer
    Wegener Communications (770)623-0096 x4362

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