[Crm-sig] Scope note for E55 Type

Dr Matthew Stiff matthew at matthewstiff.com
Tue Oct 21 17:20:06 EEST 2008

Hi Christian (and all)


I was unable to be at the Athens meeting and, frustratingly, will be in
Jeddah when you meet in London (typical!). I wonder if it would be possible
to post the issue that this is addressing on the list? Having read the
original scope note and Christian's amended version I am concerned that the
meaning of E55 Type is, if anything, becoming more opaque. Christian is not
to blame for this - The seeds of this were already there in the original
scope note. Having been responsible for drafting a lot of these I am only
too aware of the temptation to add text to clarify ambiguities rather than
seeing if the original text could be rephrased to remove the problem. As a
native English speaker I am finding some of these scope notes increasingly
difficult to understand so I can only imagine how difficult it must be for
non-native speakers!


I think it might be better to return to first principles and write a number
of simple statements saying what E55 Type IS and IS NOT. We could then use
these as the basis for producing a scope note that could be understood by an
intelligent 12-year-old (well, ok, we could push this to 16-year-old).


Best wishes, 




Dr Matthew Stiff

19 Riverside Road




(t)           +44 1865 425982

(m)         +44 7939 151510


Dear all,

In the SIG meeting at CIDOC 2008 in Athens I was asked to write a draft 

for a new scope note for E55 Type and adjust the paragraphs about types 

in the introduction. Yuo will find my suggestion for the scope note 

below. I postpone the intro part until a decision in taken on the scope 



The scope note is based on the original and on Guenther's suggestion 

from May. The intention has been to make the scope not more explicit on 

E55 Type's function as an interface to external classification systems 

and to avoid the use of the term 'meta class'. In my opinion a type in 

the CRM is a term, concept or predicate. It is not equal to the set 

denoted by this term. Martin pointed out in an email that there is very 

little difference between the interpretation of a CRM class and this 

interpretation of a type, eg 'information carrier' (CRM class) and 

'wineclass' type.


I agree that any CRM class (as a concept) and and instance of E55 have 

the same extensional intentional set/term duality. A difference is that 

we do not have any mechanisms inside CRM (if we do not follow the 

suggestion from Vladimir Ivanov) to speak about a CRM class as a whole 

as we can with respect to an instance of E55. So even though 'wineglass' 

  seen from a bird's view of the model is the same beast as 'information 

carrier' (hypothetical sets of something), there is a difference in the 

model qua a formal system.












NEW TEXT E55 Scope Note






Subclass of:    E28 Conceptual Object

Superclass of:  E56 Language

                 E57 Material

                 E58 Measurement Unit


Scope note:


The class E55 Type comprises concepts (universals) and hence provides an 

interface to domain specific concepts external to the CRM.  In this 

fashion, a connection between the CRM and a particular (external) domain 

concept as a subclass of E55 Type can be established.


This hierarchical relation allows for additional refinement through 

sub-typing of the classes (of the CRM) which represent important 

typological distinctions but where the given user group does not 

consider it necessary to give a further analysis of the classes by 

extending the CRM with new sub classes. The interpretation of these 

sub-types is based on the agreement of the specific groups.


A type, that is, an instance of E55 Type can be interpreted in several 

ways. It can be seen as a term in a thesaurus or as predicate with a 

free variable in a logical system. The instances of  the CRM classes 

having a given type (e.g. through  P2 has type) at a given point in time 

form a set or a class. However, this class or set is not identical to 

the type.


E55 Type reflects the characteristic use of terms like "Object Type", 

"Category", "Classification" etc in museum documentation. Such fields 

are used for terms that declare that the object belongs to a particular 

category or class of items.  It has however nothing to do with the term 

`type' in Natural History (cf. E83 Type Creation) which is a E24 

Physical Man-Made Thing (eg an dried insect on a needle) . But E55 Type 

includes the notion of a `taxon' which are concepts.


Ideally, (external) subclasses of the class E55 Type should be organised 

into thesauri, with scope notes, illustrations, etc. to clarify their 

meaning.  In general, it is expected that different domains and cultural 

groups will develop different thesauri in parallel.  Consistent 

reasoning on the expansion of subterms used in a thesaurus is possible 

insofar as it conforms to both the classes and the hierarchies of the 

CRM.  E56 Language, E57 Material and E58 Measurement Unit have been 

defined explicitly as elements of the E55 Type hierarchy because they 

are used categorically in the CRM without reference to instances of 

them, i.e. the CRM does not foresee the description of instances of 

instances of them, e.g., the property instance `P45 consists of : gold' 

does not refer to a particular instance of gold.


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