New issue?: vocabulary maintenance
seaman at noao.edu
Wed Feb 6 08:13:54 PST 2008
Brian Thomas wrote:
> On a population of 1000 terms, I was able to use the WordNet to
> garner 800
> or so definitions. From those, it had an overall accuracy (this is
> from memory)
> of about 75% (in otherwords, about 75% of the time, the definition
> fine with no editing).
Definition is driven by usage. The OED was assembled by a team who
scoured every primary source they could get their hands on, writing
examples of usage on innumerable scraps of paper. Usage is also how
the list of UCDs was compiled.
> I image that we can create definitions which are "generally"
> accurate and
Acceptable for what purpose(s)?
> For the really controversial terms (and how many of these can
> there possibly be??)
Consider even something as overtly obvious as "planet". Many terms
such as "universal time" have multiple conflicting definitions. Are
we signing on to convey the 150 different meanings of the word "set"?
> we can provide pointers to 'seminal' papers =or= better
> yet, just drop any definition at all and save the argument for a
> rainy day.
Let's focus on compiling a list of terms first, their meanings later
(or never). Actually, an indication of the success of VO efforts will
be when the larger community of astronomers regards it as unremarkable
that they are using VO facilities to compile such definitions.
What is the definition of a "gamma-ray burst", for instance? Is it
what the name says, a detected burst of celestial gamma-rays, meeting
some threshold criteria of amplitude and time variability? Or is it
the underlying physical phenomenon - the engine driving the burst?
Both, but especially the latter, are subject to definition and
redefinition for as long as related phenomena remain an active area of
In science, definition is also driven by theory and experiment.
More information about the semantics