Data Modelling

Information Systems Methodology

Volume 65 of the series Lecture Notes in Computer Science pp 291-306


Aspects of data semantics: Names, species and complex physical objects

  • Ronald StamperAffiliated withLondon School of Economics


Investigating the definition of administrative information systems in the LEGOL Project using legislation as experimental material, a new approach to data semantics is found necessary. The emphasis is upon the operations linking data to reality. The operations are performed in the Discourse System by people according to language norms, thus the social reality of natural language links the structures in the Formal System to the Object System. Data representing things in the real world may be regarded as subroutines in programs which people can interpret. This principle is being used to explore the possibility of a canonical data model based on an operational semantics. This is contrasted with other data models. To illustrate the principle, it is used to examine names and species, an aspect of the problem of universals and particulars. The results enable structures to be defined for the complex physical objects: collectives and systems. The use of an "alias" function to express the operational identity of entities with different representations is introduced.