XML and entropy, again
We had a classically xml-devish thread back in October about the implications of Shannon's information theory for XML. I must say I didn't understand much of that thread, but Kurt Cagle has an intriguing entry in his weblog http://metaphoricalweb.blogspot.com/2004/12/xml-and-entropy.html that puts forth some ideas that seem both interesting and somewhat practical. "Entropy is important because it can better clarify the domain at which it is best to work with a given document. XQuery I think provides a good case in point here. XQuery supports XPath, and so it has some of the advantages that XSLT has, but it's not really all that useful for dealing with documents -- converting a DocBook document into WordML or vice versa would be impossible in XQuery, but for many business schemas with comparatively low entropies, XSLT is definitely overkill." I for one like the idea of his interpretation of the entropy of an XML document in terms of the number of discrete states that its (implicit or explicit?) schema allows. I also like the idea that certain tools are more or less appropriate depending on the entropy of the documents being processed -- perhaps it's something like SAX and DOM for low entropy, XQuery for medium entropy, and XSLT for high entropy (very document-ish) documents. I wonder, however, about the assertions made for the appropriateness of XQuery and XSLT, e.g. "converting a DocBook document into WordML or vice versa would be impossible in XQuery". It gets back into our XSLT vs XQuery permathread -- do the two have radically different capabilities with respect to handling recursive structures and/or recursive alorithms, or are they more or less different syntaxes for the same capabilities? Thoughts, anyone? Sorry to reopen the permathread, but I think Kurt's approach might lead to a more focused and possibly conclusive discussion, Maybe wwe can all can trade ideas about this with our relatives over the holidays :-)
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