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XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web by Jack Park, Sam Hunting

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Formal Languages Are Easier to Compute Than Natural Languages

Computers aren't reliable translators of human communication, but humans can translate simple aspects of their various affairs into the patois of computers. We call these expressively impoverished languages formal languages, which makes them sound a lot better than they are. Virtually everything that computers do for our civilization involves the use of formal languages.

If you think you are unfamiliar with formal languages, you are mistaken. Dialing a telephone number constitutes a kind of formal utterance; telephone numbers have a rigid syntax that constitutes a kind of formal language. Around the globe, different localities use different formal languages for controlling the behavior ...

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