Reconsidering Conventional Markup for Knowledge Representation

David Dubin

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

David J. Birnbaum

University of Pittsburgh

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Reconsidering Conventional Markup for Knowledge Representation

Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008
August 12 - 15, 2008


The main attraction of semantic web technologies such as RDF and OWL over conventional markup is the support those tools provide for expressing precise semantics. Formal grounding for RDF-based languages (in, for example, description logics) and their integration with logic programming tools are guided and constrained by issues of decidability and the tractability of computations. Users of these technologies are invited to use less expressive representations, and thereby work within those constraints. Such compromises seem reasonable when considering the roles automated reasoning agents are expected to play by the semantic web community. But where expectations differ, it may be useful to reconsider using conventional markup and inferencing methods that have been applied with success despite their theoretical weaknesses. We illustrate these issues with a case study from manuscript studies and textual transmission.