Re: Search engine language parser (RKRayhawk)
27 Jul 2000 21:38:22 -0400

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From: (RKRayhawk)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 27 Jul 2000 21:38:22 -0400
Organization: AOL
References: 00-07-029
Keywords: parse

In order to impose upon the pattern
  "hello world or dolly"
the semantic
  "hello (world or dolly)"
and be economically useful, you would need an
agreement with the user of your tool that such meaning is to be applied to the
surface structure depicted with the 'or' particle.

That agreement would then need to be suspended when your engine encounters
  "Wayne's World or SNL"
which, naturally must be harnessed to a semantic of
  "(Wayne's World) or SNL".

And either will be an error when you do indeed encounter a true
  "apples oranges or pears"
intention so expressed.

The only thing you have going for you is a set of assumptions. As long
as the assumptions match the tool user's expectations, then you have
semantics that look meaningful (as in 'correct'). Proliferation of
web interfaces that do not know of the 'English or' but only the
'logical or' are tending to get folks used to that as an
assumption. But a tool can be designed anyway you want, it is just
that you may not really just want one thing. Which is how those
infernal parentheses creep into even the most user friendly interface.

The first investors approached by Alexander Graham Bell, turned him
down, saying that the American public could never become accustom to
something so complicated. They missed a chance of a life-time. If at
all possible don't be afraid to have a little faith in your user. They
usually can understand combinations of connectors, and even
parenthesis, and some of them do understand precedence of operators.

At any rate, it might be a mistake to assume that only one kind of
meaning will occur in the input of the forms you mention.

Hope that helps,

Robert Rayhawk

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