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On Types

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Thoughts on types and their relation to human cognition and language. From the open space session at TMRA 2009.

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On Types

  1. 1. Some observations on types<br />TMRA 2009, November 12, Leipzig<br />Lars Marius Garshol, &lt;larsga@bouvet.no&gt;<br />
  2. 2. Types in IT<br />Types are extremely fundamental<br />datatypes in programming languages,<br />classes in OOP,<br />entities/packages/clusters/structs/records pre-OOP<br />entity types in ER and EXPRESS,<br />classes in UML,<br />classes in RDF,<br />topic types in Topic Maps,<br />...<br />
  3. 3. Types in language<br />Consider what nouns really are<br />specifically, common nouns<br />Aren’t most of them topic types?<br />car<br />pencil<br />country<br />person<br />computer<br />...<br />
  4. 4. Types in language (2)<br />What characterizes types is that they have instances<br />You can recognize potential types using a simple “language game”<br />for a potential type y, if there is an x such that you can say “x is a y”, y is a type<br />if you cannot, it is not a type<br />Examples<br />Germany is a country<br />___ is an electromagnetic force<br />
  5. 5. Class hierarchies<br /> Consider how we talk about concepts in everyday conversations<br />Child: “What is an ozelot?”<br />Grown-up: “It’s an animal.”<br />Child: “Oh. What kind of animal?”<br />Grown-up: “It’s a kind of cat.”<br />
  6. 6. Conclusion<br />Types are fundamental in IT because they are fundamental to how we think and speak<br />Likewise class hierarchies<br />

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