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formal methods: AtomOwl

A week ago I attended the W3C Technical Plenary Week in Cannes (France). There was an very interesting session on Formal Methods at the W3C [1]. The specs that had benefited from working with formal methods were:

	- XQuery
        - OWL and RDf
- Web Services Choreography and Web Services Descriptions (using pi notation)
	- WSDL 2.0 (using Z notation)

In some cases parts of the formalization became the authoritative work, in others they only had a guiding and clarifying role, and the english text remained the authoritative work. But in every case the feeling was that the formal backing helped work out a lot of problems that were difficult to notice in the natural language text.

Now each of the formal methods languages used is in the end back by Set Theory, which RDF and OWL and other semantic web enterprises are based on. My suggestion was therefore that RDF/OWL could itself be a formal language one can use to help explicate various standards.

The work being done by the AtomOwl group could then be understood to simply be a formalization of the work done by the atom syntax and APP groups, where the spec release by these groups remain the authoritative texts. The advantage of the Semantic Web languages over these other formalisms is that it is much more widely understood, is web centric, and furthermore has some very interesting direct practical applications. AtomOwl [2] could for example be directly used to help create Sparql end points for aggregators [3], as well as being used directly as a data model as BlogEd does [4].

It is in this light that I am looking to set W3C Working Group (or XG) to create a standard ontology for Atom. As a formalization of Atom it will have to be faithful to the specs released by these IETF groups, which as stated, remain authoritative. There is interest from IBM, Talis Information and Sun Microsystems, three members of the W3C to work on this. If other members would like to join we would be more than happy. We would be very interested to hear from other members of the Atom group on how we can proceed to make the resulting spec be of the highest possible quality. Ideally we would like to place the resulting document at the Atom namespace location with some (XSLT?) transform that would be the default transform from atom to RDF.

	We are very open on what the best way to proceed is.

	Yours sincerely,

	Henry Story

	Sem Web Researcher, Sun Microsystems

[1] Session 7: Adventures in Formal Methods
[2] http://bblfish.net/work/atom-owl/2005-10-23/
[3] see http://www.intertwingly.net/wiki/pie/PaceSparqlLink
[4] https://bloged.dev.java.net/