[Tdwg-tag] roger at tdwg.org

Gregor Hagedorn G.Hagedorn at BBA.DE
Fri Mar 24 13:35:11 CET 2006

Hi Roger

> TAG list url is here with the archive:
> http://lists.tdwg.org/mailman/listinfo/tdwg-tag_lists.tdwg.org

thanks, I registered.

> > I need help to understand rdf. Whereas xml schema has a conceptual mapping to 
> > database or oo-programming design, rdf seem to have none, I lack anything I can 
> > relate it too. I still have not seen any software to help me understand what 
> > you produced.
> >   
> RDF is no more complex than xml schema. The RDFS way of doing things is 
> far more object orientated than schema. It forces you to have classes 
> and properties whereas arbitrary XML document structures can be 
> ambiguous as to whether they are defining objects or properties of 
> objects so - I don't see your reasoning.

I never encountered atomizing every statement into subject-predicate-object in 
OO design...

"to whether they are defining objects or properties of objects so": xml schema 
is about classes, not objects (instances). Can you give an example what you 
find confusing in xml schema, I don't see it.

Of course you do have the strange animal of mixed content in xml schema, but 
ignoring this (none of the TDWG standard used it) you have classes and each 
class has a type. The type can be simple or complex, just like in OO languages.

I did already tried the primer but it did not help me, it seemed to talk
of use cases rather in Artificial intelligence that are hard for me to follow.

> The RDF primer is a good place to start reading:
> http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-primer/
> It is less than 100 printed pages so can probably be read in an evening 
> and understood in several evenings!
> There is a tutorial here:
> http://www.w3schools.com/rdf/default.asp
> and loads of books and things
> The key to understanding it I found was that it is about describing 
> resources not validating documents. When using XML Schema we are trying 
> to create a set of rules to validate a document that describes the 
> resource. We are effectively designing forms. With RDF we are describing 
> the attributes of the resource that we want to use to describe it. Thus 
> the two things are not mutually exclusive - which I hoped to demonstrate 
> with my code.

That may be a good pointer to the problems I have. Because I do not think we 
are describing resources. In my mind we are sharing scientific data. I want the 
data, not the resources. 

That should be discussed in common, but I already had 0 time the last three 
days after starting this reply, and plenty of messages have come in....


> > 3. Secondarily, on cursory reading I saw that you introduced the term 
> > "GenusEpithet". This does not exist in the codes and is illogical, see def. 
> > below obtained by Google: 
> >
> > An epithet (Greek and Latin epitheton; literally meaning 'imposed' ) is a 
> > descriptive word or lapidary phrase, often metaphoric, that is essentially a 
> > reduced or condensed appositive. Epithets are sometimes attached to a person's 
> > name, as what might be described as a glorified nickname. Not every adjective 
> > is an epithet, even worn clichés. An epithet is linked to its noun by long-
> > established usage and some are not otherwise employed. 
> > en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epithet
> >   
> You are correct and I agree with you in my post as I said that this is 
> not normal English usage.
>  If I call the property 'genus' or 'genusName' then people would be 
> tempted to use it when they are describing a TaxonName of rank genus. 
> This would be wrong as a taxon name of rank genus is a uninomial 
> (monomial) and the 'uninomial' property should be used.
> The property 'genusEpithet' represents the first particle of a binomial 
> or trinomial name (which happens to consist of the word used as the 
> genus name). I am open to suggestions for other names but I guess that 
> genusEpithet is better than firstParticleOfBinomialTrinomialName. 
> genusPart? genus...? Incidentally under ICBN there is a weird rule that 
> this word is not actually the genus. If there were homonymic generic 
> names (two identical) then the species 'belong' to earlier homonym even 
> if the author of the species intended them to be in the later homonym. 
> This makes sense but it took me a long time to get it.

To me it is not about English usage, but about logic. English in general uses 
words in a logical way, so do the Nomenclatural Codes. An "Epithet" can never 
be the first particle (as you describe), because it means "added to something 
in front of it". It is like calling the front page a TitleAppendix because it 
is secondary material to main content.

I find simple "Genus" best - stick with the codes, but I see your reasoning. 
Perhaps someone finds something better than GenusPart or GenusNameParticle (I 
dont), but I would go for them. 

I never found the rule weird, by the way, it is perfectly logical given the 
code considers a "name" the name-string, without the authors and publication 
details logically required in the case of homonyms. It basically safeguards 
against unnecessary name changes.

EDI booking is all ok. Many thanks!


Gregor Hagedorn (G.Hagedorn at bba.de)
Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology, and Biosafety
Federal Research Center for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA)
Königin-Luise-Str. 19           Tel: +49-30-8304-2220
14195 Berlin, Germany           Fax: +49-30-8304-2203

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