Re: Ambiguity and disunification

From: Dean Snyder (
Date: Wed Mar 02 2005 - 17:17:47 CST

  • Next message: Gregg Reynolds: "Re: Ambiguity and disunification"

    Kenneth Whistler wrote at 12:29 PM on Wednesday, March 2, 2005:

    >And no, Dean, this is not an invitation to come re-argue the
    >case that any disambiguating disunification should (or must)
    >encode *both* of the disambiguated usages. It matters not
    >whether a disunification proceeds as:
    >X (:: A or B) ==> Y (:: A)
    >or as:
    >X (:: A or B) ==> Y (:: A)
    > ==> Z (:: B)
    >In *either* case, you *still* are left with an X encoded, ambiguous
    >between meaning "A" or "B". And data that makes use of that X,
    >whether generated before *or* after the historical point that
    >the disambiguating disunification decision was taken, may still
    >be ambiguous in exactly the same way it was before such additions.

    Wrong - if you encode only one of the disambiguated usages you have
    actually INCREASED the ambiguity of the original character; it now has
    not only its original ambiguous significance but ALSO a new context-bound
    unambiguous significance opposite the newly encoded character's
    significance. In addition, there is no way to represent all three usages
    (one ambiguous, two unambiguous) in the same plain text passage.

    So you end up precisely with Jony's scenario - if you cut and exchange a
    segment of some of this newly encoded and conformant text that happens to
    have only examples of the original character in it, you now have no
    context with which to decide how this character is to be interpreted
    downstream; because the SOLE disambiguation trigger in plain text is the
    PRESENCE of at least one of the newly encoded disambiguated characters.
    But if, as I have suggested, you encode BOTH unambiguous characters, you
    solve all associated problems very simply without introducing any new


    Dean A. Snyder

    Assistant Research Scholar
    Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
    Computer Science Department
    Whiting School of Engineering
    218C New Engineering Building
    3400 North Charles Street
    Johns Hopkins University
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218

    office: 410 516-6850
    cell: 717 817-4897

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