[developers] predicate naming in MRS

Stephan Oepen oe at ifi.uio.no
Mon Dec 28 18:15:55 CET 2015

dear colleagues,

in these days of reflection, i would like to ask for opinions on an
aspect of the DELPH-IN informalism where dan and i recently discovered
that we held conflicting opinions.  thus, we are looking for folks
with a deeper understanding of the issue.

for MRS predicate symbols, we have long established that we do not
want case differences or type vs. string distinctions to be
meaningful, i.e. we do not expect foo, Foo, or "foo" to name different
relations (see ‘MrsRfc’ on the wiki).  from this, i had concluded that
no grammar would ever use both foo and "foo", whereas dan has found it
convenient in the ERG to use comparable type names and strings (across
lexical entries of different syntactic categories) in the expectation
that they would be treated as equivalent MRS predicate symbols, e.g.
_downtown_a_1_rel and "_downtown_a_1_rel".

my assertation that the above was an undesirable property for a
DELPH-IN grammar is supported by currrent software: MRS comparison,
transfer, and generation do not treat types and strings as equivalent;
a creator of input semantics for generation, for example, needs to
know about the distinction and make a choice.

what dan beliefs, however, arguably makes good sense (to me at least).
i believe i can see how the various pieces of MRS manipulation
software could be extended to yield the interpretation of equivalence.
i would volunteer to make these changes in the Lisp implementation of
MRS-related code.

before suggesting a course of forward action, i would like to ask (a)
whether anyone has strongly held positions (and supporting arguments)
on the general question and (b) whether woodley and mike would be
prepared to make software changes in ACE and pyDelphin, respectively,
regarding this choice?

with thanks in advance, oe

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