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Posts tagged ‘reference’

Thoughts: Humans, computers, and identifier granularity

Third post in this sequence. In the first post, I reviewed that biological nomenclature promotes (even requires) fairly deep taxonomic semantics, due to semantically forceful principles such as Typification, Priority, Coordination, and Binomial Names. In the second post, I suggested (again, nothing very new here) that the Linnaean system has many features which, given the task on hand (reliably identifying nature’s hierarchy), are nearly optimally aligned with evolutionarily constrained human cognitive universals.

Both posts are ultimately about advancing biodiversity informatics infrastructure design. That motivation points to finding sound models of knowledge communication in the taxonomic domain. Lessons from the two preceding posts may be as follows. (1) If the goal is to build data environments that largely continue to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of human cognitive universals, then the particular balance struck by Linnaean names and name relationships acting as identifiers of evolving human taxonomy making is adequate. (2) There may be better solutions out there, particularly solutions that more effectively utilize the reasoning and scalability strengths of computational logic.

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Weekly reading: Witteveen on naming and contingency – the type method

This week: part II of our interim series of “new and interesting though not (yet) Next Generation Sequencing” papers. Joeri Witteveen is taking a new look at how the Codes of Nomenclature enforce contingent assignments of types to taxonomic names. Awesome!

Witteveen, J. 2014. Naming and contingency: the type method of biological taxonomy. Biology & Philosophy. Available on-line here.