Monday, October 06, 2003

Class Object and Data 

Many people have observed a shift from the predominance of the "class" construct in object oriented programming to a new emphasis on data that is evident in the increasing use of XML and service oriented approaches to programming. With the development of many more XML standards, such as Schema/Relax NG/RDF there has been a return to a more constrained type system for controlling and validating data. This swing back and forth between the abstraction of classes and the concreteness of data leaves the concept of an "Object" as a good balance point on which to build a new model of programming. Instead of objects being created top down from the template of a class, classes can be defined bottom up, from a growing collection of objects and transformations that define the dynamic evolution of a class. Instead of a static definition of a class, there is a network of transformations between objects that defines there dynamic evolution. It is the “value” of these transformations that determine how there structure will change over time. Objects integrate syntax with semantics (value or meaning) as well as the creation of value over time (learning). Lev Goldfarb has developed a similar set of ideas in an attempt to define a new kind of mathematics that is linked to inductive learning. He refers to this model as an “Evolving Transformation System” or ETS.
The ETS model …”is the first, and so far the only, formal general framework for modeling an evolving form of object and class representations. As a radically new formalism, in contrast to the classical formalisms--which do not make any explicit assumptions about the structure of objects in the Universe--the ETS model explicitly postulates the generative structure of objects and classes.”

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