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Re: Panstems



> Which brings us to an interesting point. If definitions are considered to
be
> prose, and not rigorous formulae, we run into several problems. First of
all,
> wordings can be ambiguous. Secondly, reading prose requires full
comprehension
> of the language employed. Suppose somebody were to formulate definitions
in
> Russian, Portuguese, Hindi, Swahili, Classical Latin, Classical Greek,
etc.?
> Would the database then have to preserve that wording as THE definition,
and
> wouldn't anyone who didn't know that language be impeded from
understanding it?

This is why the PhyloCode currently rules to write definitions in English or
Latin (Art 9.4, http://www.ohiou.edu/phylocode/art9.html). At this point in
history, I don't think it's a noticeable exaggeration to claim that every
scientist speaks English. However, I think we should invent official
abbreviations for at least the simpler and probably more common kinds of
definitions, like {A + B} for a node-based one -- this makes comprehension
even simpler and saves space (presumably even webspace and bandwidth at the
registration database).

> http://dino.lm.com/keesey/documents/PhylogeneticNotation.doc

Impressive.

The definition of "BreedingGroups" does make one scream, though...

> Another benefit of using a rigorous notation for definitions is that they
are
> then capable of being parsed and understood by computer programs, which
could
> have useful applications.

Sounds good...

I'll try to retrieve the system I proposed a month or so ago (it's simpler,
uses non-ASCII characters but only such that occur in iso-8859-1 "Western
European", and is not capable of expressing the more complex of your
examples), to see if I could find something about your system to quibble
about... :-)