new research into semantic categories

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Feb 12 00:24:36 UTC 2010

Yes, by "Boolean" variable one can understand "binary".  If that's a
sufficient clarification, go to (2); Else go to (1).

(1)  The Wikipedia article titled "Relational database" is good --
except that what I called "object" and "row" it calls "tuple", and
what I called "property" and "column" it calls "attribute".  (I used
the SQL terminology, which is shown in the article.)

The Wikipedia article titled "Data type", although deprecated by the
honchos there, is certainly good enough when it starts

"A data type (or datatype) In programming, a classification
identifying one of various types of data, as floating-point, integer,
or Boolean, stating the possible values for that type, the operations
that can be done on that type, and the way the values of that type are stored."

The Wikipedia article "Enumerated type" explains that it is "a data
type consisting of a set of named values."  A finite set of values
(unlike, for example, the integers), each of which can be given a name.

The Wikipedia article "Boolean data type" says it is a "data type
having one of two values: true or false, intended to represent the
truth values of logic and Boolean algebra."  A Boolean data type is
thus one kind of enumerated data type, the simplest that can contain
a variable (having only two possible values; if it had only one value
it would be a "constant").  No need to progress on to Boolean
algebra, set theory, the integers, etc. a la Russell.

The two "dimensions" from the "new research" into how humans classify
non-human objects that are called "Can I eat it?" and "Can it give me
shelter?" are yes/no questions, and therefore they are "properties"
that have the (enumerated) data type "Boolean".

(2)  Presuming (or "concluding") that all humans classify all
non-human objects as only having three dimensions ("attributes") is a
bad thing because it is simplistic and contrary to observation and
experiment.  That two of the attributes are the most elementary data
type possible ("Boolean" variable) is also simplistic.  For example,
"Can it give me shelter?" doesn't distinguish from what -- the rain?
the sun? the saber-toothed tiger? the Big Bad Wolf?  (the last
attribute value being of crucial importance to we all know whom).


P.S.  Not exactly any particular programming language, but perhaps

     Can-it-give-me-shelter-from enumerated ("rain", "sun",
"saber-toothed-tiger", "Big-Bad-Wolf").
     House [an object];
          Sheltering-ability, type Can-it-give-me-shelter-from
          Address, type character
           Zip-code, type integer

if Can-it-give-me-shelter-from = "Big-Bad-Wolf" then remain safely indoors;
else run to brother's house.

A different program would be written if this dimension (data type) were

      Material-of-houses enumerated ("straw", "wood", "brick")


At 2/11/2010 05:47 PM, ROBIN HAMILTON wrote:
>Joel said:
> > At 2/8/2010 10:22 PM, James Harbeck [quoted]:
>    <<
> > human brains classify all
> > non-human
> > >objects in terms of three dimensions: in plain, "Can I
> > eat it? How do
> > >I hold it? Can it give me shelter?"
>    >>
>[Joel wrote:]
> > Is this as nonsensical as it sounds to me?  The human
> > brain can only
> > manage three properties for all non-human objects?
> > And two of those
> > properties are the simplest of "enumerated" data types,
> > namely
> > "Boolean", which can take on only two values, "yes" or
> > "no"?
>Joel, can I issue a request for clarification with regard to your
>words above, <the simplest of "enumerated" data types, namely
>"Boolean">, as it clashes in a non-trivial way with what I think I know?
>Or when you say "Boolean", did you simply mean "binary"?
>While Boolean logic does operate on one level with a simple yes/no
>binary system of oppositions, that doesn't quite catch the point of
>it, since Boolean logic, among other things being the natural
>progression of the extension of Modern Formal Logic into Symbolic
>Logic (if I have the terms right here), is explicitly contrasted
>with Aristoelian logic (the grandaddy of Formal Logic) by the very
>fact that it *isn't, when it comes down to it, itself binary.
>Boolean Logic is simply the philosophical wing of Set Theory, or
>(what I personally find easiest to understand) Venn Diagrams, the
>visual analogue of Set Theory.
>While both Aristotelian Logic and Boolean Logic depend on the Law of
>the Excluded Middle (which is where it's at, more than binary number
>systems versus our common-sensical decimal system or even the more
>useful hexadecimal system), the Fallacy [sic] of the Excluded Middle
>(or the False Dilemma) is less easy to put over in Boolean Logic
>than it is in Aristotelain Logic.
> > Any relational database system can do better than
> > that!  (Translating, "property" = column; "object" =
> > "row".)
> >
> > Joel
>Now, let's see if I have this right, Joel [he said, oozing sarcasm
>at every pore, and wondering whether he was about to be so
>gratuitously offensive that he'd get himself kicked off the list
><g>]: Boolean logic is a Bad Thing because it's based on a binary
>number system whereas Relational databases are a Good Thing, because ... ?
>.... they are normally found running on computers, which in their
>familiar digital rather than analogue variety are based on binary
>mathematics and were growed out of on/off switches.
>There seems to be a disconnect here, even before we get to how it
>might be possible to view relational databases as a simple use of
>set theory, and Boolean logic as a more complex extension, and thus
>the one being no more than a topological transformation of the other.  <g>
>(Alternatively, Aristotelian Logic could be seen as analogous to a
>Flat Form Database, whereas Boolean Logic would correlate with a
>Relational Database.)
>(who doesn't even know enough to be dangerous, and is probably
>*harmlessly wrong in what he says above)
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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