Semi-Structured Data and the Web – Day 3

Woah.

It always worries me a little when the greek symbols come out. So far, we’ve pretty much avoided them in the Semi-Structured Data and the Web course, so to see them today, whilst not really unexpected, did make my heart sink a little.

I appreciate that there needs to be a language for the exchange of abstract concepts and ideas, but I find it tough to digest these days. I’m sure it was easier when I was younger – maybe I was more suited to having information uploaded into me back then. It’s something I think I’m going to have to deal with to get through this, though. Hopefully I can rediscover my capacity for absorbing this kind of information, because I feel there’s some incredible insight to be gained from it.

Anyway, the symbols came out in learning about tree grammars, and the translation of schema languages like DTD and XML Schema into them. Why’d you want to do that? Well, the application we’re looking at is the comparison of expressive power of schema languages, and the computational complexity of validating a document against them. You sort of need to know if it might take three weeks to validate your document… It seems fair that you can only really compare like-for-like if you can translate these different languages into some common form, hence tree grammar. Kind of suggests a proof-type approach, so I can see why we got this darned symbolic stuff going on.

We’ve also been looking at validation and error handling in HTML, XML and CSS. I’ve not really thought about it in too much detail before, but this topic seems to have been something of a holy war in the web community since around the turn of the century (that’d be a grand total of 8 years ago, or course, but I felt it had a certain presence the way I phrased it) – there’s essay-style coursework for the week set on this, so I’ll keep my thoughts to myself for now.

Time is a problem at the moment – between work, coursework and the usual life stuff, it’s tough to find time to blog, but it’s a nice way to get my thoughts straight. These posts will probably run a little behind though, so if anyone notices posts backdated, it’s because I started them, but it took a while to get them finished.

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