ANSI and ISO standards activities

sowa <>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1993 04:02:33 -0700
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Subject: ANSI and ISO standards activities
During the week of May 17 to 21, the ANSI X3H4 Committee on IRDS
(Information Resource Dictionary Systems) met in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Following are some developments that are relevant to the Knowledge
Sharing Effort:

 1. The X3H4 Technical Report on the IRDS Conceptual Schema is in
    press at ANSI.  This is the TR that recommends conceptual graphs
    as the base for the initial normative language for conceptual
    schemas.  When the TR is officially published and available,
    I'll send further information about how to order copies.

 2. Meanwhile, ANSI X3 (the parent body of all the computer-related
    technical committees) approved an SD-3 (Standing Document #3),
    IRDS Normative Schema, which authorizes X3H4 to write a draft
    proposed standard along the lines recommended in the TR.  The
    initial base language will be conceptual graphs, but other
    languages with equivalent semantics will also be supported as
    normative languages.  Because of the agreement to adopt a common
    semantics for KIF and CGs, both languages and their semantics
    will be standardized as part of this project.

 3. The ANSI X3T2 Committee on Communications has had an ongoing
    project to write a draft proposed standard for a conceptual schema
    for information interchange.  They have now voted to adopt KIF
    as the base language for their conceptual schema.  This raises
    a question about how X3T2 and X3H4 will coordinate their standards.

 4. Since the semantics of what is stored in the IRDS must be identical
    to the semantics of what is interchanged according to the X3T2
    conceptual schema, the same version of KIF must be used by both
    X3H4 and X3T2, and it must be kept the same through all updates
    and revisions.

 5. X3T2 sent a memo about their approach to X3H4 and other related
    ANSI committees, which suggested the need for "carefully
    considered liaison".  X3H4 voted to endorse the X3T2 plan, and
    sent a response to X3T2 with the following provision:

    "The work on logic harmonization that was begun by the technical
    developers [i.e. Richard Fikes, Mike Genesereth, Jim Fulton,
    Bob Neches, and John Sowa] promises to establish the common
    semantic foundation that is necessary for both the X3T2 Conceptual
    Schema and the X3H4 IRDS Normative Schema.  However, X3H4 wishes
    to emphasize the point that the detailed work needed to establish
    the complete semantic equivalence of KIF and CGs has not yet been
    completed.  Furthermore, new requirements and developments that
    emerge from both projects are likely to require extensions and
    modifications to the common semantic base.  Therefore, X3H4
    believes that the technical developers of KIF and CGs must continue
    their work on logic harmonization and that appropriate liaisons
    between X3H4 and X3T2 are essential to ensure that a common semantic
    foundation is achieved."

 6. ISO, the International Standards Organization, has also been
    actively considering conceptual schemas, and representatives
    from X3H4, X3T2, and KSE (Bob Neches) have been participating
    in the ISO Special Working Group on Conceptual Schema and
    Data Modelling Facilities (SWG-MF).  This group will be meeting
    in Yokohama, Japan, in June to finish their final report to
    ISO/IEC JTC1 (Joint Technical Committee #1), which recommends
    that a new standards project on conceptual schema and modelling
    facilities be started at the ISO level.  If this project is
    approved by JTC1, then X3H4 and X3T2 will have to coordinate
    their efforts with ISO.

 7. Object-oriented systems have been receiving increasing attention,
    and the ANSI X3H7 Committee on Object Information Management is
    also very interested in the work on conceptual schemas and knowledge
    sharing.  In March, X3H4 and X3H7 held a joint meeting to start the
    discussions on a common approach.  As a result of that discussion,
    Roger Burkhart, who is a member of both X3H4 and X3H7, is organizing
    another joint meeting on July 20th in Chicago.  At that meeting,
    Mike Genesereth will talk about KIF, and John Sowa will talk about
    the use of both KIF and CGs for modelling O-O systems.  Since X3H7
    has already been considering the use of logic for defining object
    models, we are hopeful that this meeting will help establish a common
    approach to defining object models on top of the KIF/CG semantics.

In summary, there is some developing momentum in support of a logic-
based standard for conceptual schemas and information interchange.
But there are a lot of different committees at both the national and
international levels, and the technical work is often overwhelmed by
the administrative effort and political maneuvering.

The major threat to the logic-based approach is from languages like
SQL and Express, which have the expressive power of first-order logic
buried under a ton of very ugly syntax.  If the people who advocate
a logic-based approach can maintain a united front, they have a good
chance to succeed in developing a clean new approach with a solid
foundation.  If not, the winner by default will be another ad hoc
encrustation on top of SQL.

John Sowa