Re: alternative interlingua

Danny Bobrow <>
Message-id: <>
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 90 11:23:27 -0700 (PDT)
From: Danny Bobrow <>
To:, (Peter F. Patel-Schneider)
Subject: Re: alternative interlingua
In-Reply-To: <9008131834.AA03457@arisia.Xerox.COM>
References: <9008131834.AA03457@arisia.Xerox.COM>
Excerpts from mail: 13-Aug-90 alternative interlingua P.
Patel-Schneider@alleg (1122)

> I am afraid that the major use of the interlingua will turn out to be
> satisfying a, possibly implied, desire of various funding agencies.  In
> this climate, the main gain from using the interlingua will be to state
> that it was used, and not putting it to good use.  So, if it is easiest to
> use the interlingua via a side-agreement between representation systems
> that subverts the meaning of statements, then it will be so used.

I believe that the people involved in the effort to build a common
interlingua are people committed to sharing knowledge.  So if the
interlingua is any good (and we ought to test it before saying it is an
interlingua -- or especially before saying it is a standard), then it
should have significant use in sharing knowledge.  I am sure that all
the people have enough else to do that working out ways to subvert the
system (rather than not using it at all) will be low on their priority
list.  I hate to see us commit to theDykstra religious fallacy "if a
feature can be misused, then forbid it. "  We are in fact a scientific
community and can publicly judge how things are used.

> Forbidding this sort of side-agreement, and requiring that the mapping into
> the interlingua be faithful to the meaning of the constructs of the source
> language, and not allowing a quote mechanism, would, I think, make it much
> harder for these political pressures to overwhelm the research benefits
> inherent in a good interlingua.

I think there ae significant reseaarch benefits for learning how to
capture in better ways things which have been done through side
agreements.  But don't you think it is important to try to understand
what we can get as common in current systems now?

> My "interest" in an interlingua is that it is an attempt to build a
> universal, or at least more powerful, representation logic.  The "utility"
> of an interlingua is simply using it as an intermediary to translate
> between two representation systems.  I painted a picture where this
> "utility" did not come along with any real representational benefits.

Do you believe that a universal (or even much more powerful
representation logic) is just some design time away from coming into
existence.  I understood you and several others at the conference to be
saying that there are interesting (read HARD) problems to be solved to
make such a well-founded system.  I support such research.  Should the
working group process that is going towards developing a standard now be
sidetracked awaiting this hoped for train?  I hope the result of the
working group's deliberations are an initial language (call it SKL-1), a
process for the evaluation of this language in use, and a process for
the evolution of the language over the next several years (SKL-2, SKL-3
...).  Any one of these could be a major jump (given that it could be a
jump to something that subsumes the current state  -- not necessarily
syntactically-- and much more expressive). Is this too polyanna-ish to
believe in?