[sc34wg3] Conformance

Jan Algermissen sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Sun, 27 Apr 2003 15:00:45 +0200

I want to raise the question again what conformance means
regarding topic maps.

The following email discussion is taken from the threat
"Questions on N0396: (8) Conformance":

Lars Marius Garshol wrote:

<snip />

> * Lars Marius Garshol
> |
> | What do you mean? I can't think of any topic map engine that does
> | not effectively implement SAM (or something very close to it) except
> | your own.
> * Jan Algermissen
> |
> | Wait a minute....if you can't say how to verify SAM conformance, how
> | do you know?
> |
> | OTH, this last sentence is exactly what we need to talk about to get
> | to the conformance 'solution'. What does it mean to 'effectively
> | implement SAM' ?
> As it stands now: to use an internal representation equivalent to the
> SAM.
> | Example: I can implement a Python module on top of my code that
> | provides exactly the object oriented 'version' of the N0396 topic
> | map infoset (section 3). Is my implementation conformant then?
> Yes.
> | Is only the wrapper conformant because it provides the API or is the
> | underlying (graph based) C code conformant too, because it allows me
> | to build the Python wrapper on top?
> Depends how much is in the wrapper. If there is an equivalent
> structure underneath the C layer would be conformant, too. An RDBMS
> would *not* be conformant, even though you could build a SAM
> implementation on top of it.

<snip />

What I read from the above is this:

If the SAM will eventually have a conformance clause it will constrain
the internal details of implementations. The SAM would not 'allow' for
a conforming implementation to be based on an RDBMS.

Lars, is that correct?

Without the intend to insult Lars (who has himself questioned the value
of a conformance clause in the SAM) I claim that this is plain nonsense.

What is the reason to constrain the structural representation that implementations
use internally? Given the entity relationship model, does that constrain the
internals of the software of database products? **What** is the possible
benefit for the SAM to require conformance to its conceptual model?

To me, conformance makes only sense at the API/query language level, since
there it will enable interoperability between applications.

So, **what** is the purpose of a conceptual model for topic maps (be it N0393
or N0396)?

Clearly, there are portions of both, N0393 and N0396 that do make sense
to constrain applications (e.g. merging behaviour, value equality...),
but what is the purpose of the conceptual data model? We need it, sure,
but what for?

Sorry to be provocative, but I try to get everyone to think about this!

[This is not an N0393 vs. N0396 issue, the above applies equally to both]


> --
> Lars Marius Garshol, Ontopian         <URL: http://www.ontopia.net >
> GSM: +47 98 21 55 50                  <URL: http://www.garshol.priv.no >
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Jan Algermissen                           http://www.topicmapping.com
Consultant & Programmer	                  http://www.gooseworks.org