[SEEK-Taxon] TCS name for assertions/relationships

Paterson, Trevor T.Paterson at napier.ac.uk
Sun Aug 15 11:25:05 PDT 2004

can people contribute to our WIKI discussion on this.....
we only shifted from 'Relationships' to 'Assertions' because some reviewers felt we should distinguish between Relationships that are part of the original definition, and these 'third party' relationships - we were only using 'Assertion ' in its English Language sense and were well aware of its specific usage in Taxonomer
I would be happy with Concept Relationships as Nico suggested - in a way the label doesnt matter - what is important is what it holds.........


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Sent: Fri 13/08/2004 20:00
To: seek-taxon at ecoinformatics.org
Subject: seek-taxon digest, Vol 1 #154 - 2 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Assertions (Richard Pyle)
   2. Re: Assertions (Nico Franz)


Message: 1
From: "Richard Pyle" <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
To: <seek-taxon at ecoinformatics.org>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 16:06:56 -1000
Subject: [SEEK-Taxon] Assertions

Greetings all,

I'm sorry I missed the last conference call -- I was up late the night
before, and a stampede of elephants in my bedroom (much less my alarm clock)
wouldn't have gotten me out of bet that early.....

I've seen the emails RE the proposed TDWG transfer schema, but haven't yet
had a chance to study them in detail.  However, James Ytow just pointed out
to me that it includes the term "Assertion", but defined differently from
how it is defined in the Taxonomer data model
(http://www.phyloinformatics.org/pdf/1.pdf) -- where it is the core central
element of the taxonomic model.  In Taxonomer, the "Assertion" instance is
the intersection of a Name and a Reference -- an assertion about the
nomenclatural status of a name, and a "handle" to the implied concept.  In
the proposed transfer schema, it is used as a 3rd-party assertion about the
relationships between two concepts.  In other words, in Taxonomer it
represents a handle to a concept, whereas in the transfer schema it is used
for a mapping between two existing concepts.

My concern is that discussions about these data models and schemas are
already confusing enough with such homonymous words as "class", "concept",
"reference", etc. -- that we probably want to avoid further confusion by
creating new homonyms.  I'm not possesive of the term "Assertion" -- I've
often thought that I probably should have used "PotentialTaxon" or
"PotentialConcept" or "NameReference" or something else a little more
explicit, and I wouldn't mind changing it in my model.  Unfortunately, I've
already published it as "Assertion", and it's hard for me to retract that
definition now.

Does anyone else have similar concerns? As I said, I'd sooner change the
term I use in the Taxonomer model to something else, than be faced with
speaking of "Assertion sensu Taxonomer" vs. "Assertion sensu TOC", etc. --
so if "Assertion" is really the best term in the TOC context, I'll do
whatever I can to retract my use of "Assertion" in Taxonomer.  Or, if
another term can be used in the TOC context, that would make my life a bit

I've got a very busy week ahead of me, so I'm not sure how much time I'll
have to digest the TCS documentation -- but as soon as I get a chance, I'll
go over it in detail and provide any feedback I might have.



Message: 2
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 09:47:12 -0700
To: "Richard Pyle" <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>,
        <seek-taxon at ecoinformatics.org>
From: Nico Franz <franz at nceas.ucsb.edu>
Subject: Re: [SEEK-Taxon] Assertions

Hi Rich:

    it's fascinating how we can sometimes understand each other using
ambiguous, uninformative, or even "wrong" terms. I agree with you that the
TOC's use of the term "assertion" pays little respect to your previous work
on Taxonomer. Just as importantly, I find the term rather uninformative,
when more informative choices were clearly available. The TOC's use of
"assertion" is meant to denote the establishment of a RELATIONSHIP among
(minimally) two concepts, although you wouldn't know that from its
name."Third-party assertion" helps a bit, but still misses the main point I
think. People also sometimes call these relationship assessments "concept
synonymies", which is equally unfortunate, because "nym" means name, not
concept. What I could further read into "assertion" is that since one
"merely asserts something", the "assertion" is not quite on the same
intellectual level as a "real concept". I'm clearly pushing it here, but
that's what *I*, *now*, read between the lines.

    So in sum, the TOC's use of "assertion" violates some sense of priority
(causing confusion), is unnecessarily uninformative as to what "assertions"
are, and possibly even labels them as something less scientific, less
reliable. I would like us to change all these potential implications by
calling them what they are: CONCEPT RELATIONSHIPS, or links, or
connections, edges in graph theory I believe. So then one could author
either a concept or a relationship, and be as assertive as one wants to
be.  ;-)

    That said, I think that when you're in the process of developing both
an application and a terminology, some temporary mismatches are bound to
happen, and sometimes don't matter all that much. In our conference calls
we've had some success talking about "AtomicTaxa", when those are really
concepts without relationships to others in their definition. So let's see
where the dice fall with "assertions".



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