Re: Requirements for a standard

Matthew L. Ginsberg <ginsberg@t.Stanford.EDU>
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 92 17:54:15 PST
From: Matthew L. Ginsberg <ginsberg@t.Stanford.EDU>
Message-id: <9202040154.AA02819@t.Stanford.EDU>
Subject: Re:  Requirements for a standard
Cc:, interlingua@ISI.EDU, kr-advisory@ISI.EDU, srkb@ISI.EDU
John writes:

  Until we can agree on what
  these proposed "standards" are supposed to standardize, we cannot even
  begin to agree on what the languages should look like.

That is certainly at odds with the discussions that have been taking
place thus far!

  I do believe that if you had a
  complete description of a Boeing 777 in FOL, you could do all sorts
  of creative reasoning with it using your super nonmonotonic reasoner.
  You could start with the description as a collection of low-level facts,
  and do hypothetical, nonmonotonic, or fuzzy reasoning about what would
  happen if someone set off a bomb in the lavatory.

The whole lesson of nonmonotonic reasoning is that this is exactly
what you *can't* do.  It just isn't the case that you can apply
nonmonotonic, or hypothetical, or fuzzy reasoning to an FOL database.
All of these methods rely on information that an FOL database is
simply lacking.  What predicates do you minimize?  The FOL description
has doubtless omitted a lot of abnormality conditions because the
designer wasn't interested in bombs in toilets.  (I've seen parts of
the Rockwell description for one of their planes; it certainly had
this property.)
   A standard must be able
   to communicate any statement of fact about anything in the universe.
   That goal can be achieved with nothing more than first-order logic.

Or LISP, for that matter.  Why not just exchange code?  The reason, of
course, is that we want a language that is perspicuous, not just any
language at all.
  I also believe that if anybody were able to develop
  a super nonmonotonic Sergeant-Friday-simulator, they could turn it loose
  on "just the facts" and do all sorts of "wild and wonderful things."

The fact is, they couldn't.

Let me propose -- again -- that the standards folks take a look at my
proposed language.  It subscribes to the *syntax* of FOL, but not to
the semantics.  The reason is that the KR community appears to have come
to the following consensus with regard to FOL:

	The syntax, John.  Just the syntax.  What you think about
	it is not our concern.

Sorry.  I couldn't resist.

						Matt Ginsberg