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About Ted Hills

Ted Hills has been active in the Information Technology industry since 1975. At LexisNexis, Ted co-leads the work of establishing enterprise data architecture standards and governance processes, working with data models and business and data definitions for both structured and unstructured data.

  • Ronald G Ross

    I think you lapse into dataSpeak or systemSpeak when you say “Thus, every proposition has a truth-value.” According to the Merriam-Webster definition you quote, every proposition “… *is* either true or false”. (If a proposition is true, it’s a fact.) The semantics of “is” vs. “has” of course are distinct.
    Nice piece. My comment is from the perspective of SBVR, which is a linguistic standard. What would be really interesting is a piece on data vs. information vs. knowledge.

    • Ted Hills

      Perhaps. It was a setup for the next sentence, which says that “propositional logic . . . studies the truth-value of propositions.”
      Knowledge is a deep subject, but I could give it a try in a future blog.

    • Ted Hills

      Ronald, I was re-reading this just now, and picked up on something else. The “is-a”/”has-a” distinction in English is not a fully reliable indicator of logical equivalence versus possession. When I finish dinner and say, “I am full”, I am describing my state, not establishing my equivalence to fullness. Similarly, it is fine to say that a particular proposition *is* true, because one is describing its truth-value, which it *has* in addition to other attributes such as the language in which it is expressed, its general subject matter, etc. So I don’t think you can restrict the linguistic notions of “is-a” and “has-a” that much in a general context.

      • Ronald G Ross

        SBVR would distinguish the (bi-nary) verb concept “[noun concept] is [noun concept]” from the (unary) verb concept “[noun concept] is full”. They are clearly distinct in meaning.
        SBVR also is clear that ‘[noun concept] has … ” is about possession (i.e., properties) and is distinct from the various things “[noun concept] is a [noun concept]” might mean (e.g., category, equivalence, instance, etc.). (As Bill Clinton famously said, it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”)
        These are very fundamental linguistic/semantic issues. SBVR puts a stake in the ground based on formal logic so that we can get beyond these basic and endless discussions. It’s the only way forward in structural modeling. It’s ‘elements of structure’ are clear and well-grounded. And by the way, SBVR makes a clear distinction between meaning and expression, so the notions can be independent of natural language.

        • Ted Hills

          Understood. And I think it’s good that SBVR has pinned down these distinctions. It’s just that I don’t think you can apply those very nice distinctions to ordinary English writing that was done without reference to them. :-)

          • Ronald G Ross

            Today we have smart phones I can talk to pretty well. Why can’t machines engage in disambiguation dialogs with data and business designers?!

          • Ted Hills

            The kind of disambiguation dialog engaged in by data and business process professionals requires a deep understanding of the subtleties of natural language, especially that heavily overloaded language used in our fields. No one has yet enabled a computer to understand language to such a degree.

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