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Re: Updating COMCIFS' approach to dictionaries

One problem with this revision is that, unless the prefix convention is 
all of CIF has a common namespace, and both DDL1 CIF and DDLm CIF
do not have the strict hierarchical category structure of DDL2.

Another problem is that multiple domains are likely to produce different
terms for related, similar, or even identical concepts. This is not a
serious problem when the different dictionaries are not used for
common experiments, but as more and more cross-disciplinary experiments
are preformed, some reasonable degree of attention to this problem
in a common venue would seem desirable.

I don't have easy answers for these problems, but I would suggest we
consider them.


On 2/19/12 8:16 PM, James Hester wrote:
> Dear COMCIFS members,
> I would appreciate hearing any thoughts on the issue discussed below.
> James.
> ===================================================================
> An important aspect of COMCIFS' work is to approve and maintain CIF
> dictionaries.  Approval of a dictionary involves:
> (i) checking that DDL and CIF syntactical and semantic constraints are
> met;
> (ii) checking that the ontology presented in the dictionary is
> well-defined and meets the needs of the dictionary domain;
> (iii) checking that the
> dictionary harmonises with other dictionaries maintained by COMCIFS.
> Function (i) is relatively easy to perform semi-automatically.
> However, it is becoming increasingly impractical for COMCIFS members
> to properly assess the scientific content of all dictionaries that are
> being developed in the wider community, making functions (ii) and
> (iii) difficult to perform.  As discussed at the Madrid IUCr meeting,
> I therefore propose adjusting COMCIFS' approach.  We can facilitate
> dictionary development by delegating approval and maintenance of
> discipline-specific dictionaries to capable organisations where they
> exist.
> I therefore envisage three levels of COMCIFS engagement with dictionaries:
> (i) The Core CIF dictionary together with other small add-on
> dictionaries continue to be treated as before, with active COMCIFS
> approval required;
> (ii) Dictionaries that are submitted by organisations recognised
> by COMCIFS as being competent are given automatic COMCIFS approval
> (this would presumably apply, for example. to the PDB).  These
> dictionaries are expected to maintain ontological agreement with other
> IUCr dictionaries, and may require some technical editing;
> (iii) COMCIFS offers syntactical checks and advice to dictionaries not
> covered by (i) and (ii)
> COMCIFS would also allow inclusion of any syntactically correct
> dictionaries in the central register maintained by the IUCr at the
> disgression of the COMCIFS secretary, provided it is clear that
> these dictionaries do not necessarily mesh with IUCr-sponsored dictionaries.

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