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DATETIME  July 2015

DATETIME July 2015

Subject:

Re: Open-end interval

From:

Don Byrd <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion of the Developing Date/Time Standards <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:44:16 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (149 lines)

Edward does a fine job of clarifying the issue. It's essentially what
another German mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss, had in mind when he
commented that "infinity" in math really meant _unbounded_, that it
could never represent an existing thing.

However, I strongly disagree with Edward's conclusion. Cosmologists
already have several "oscillating universe" theories in which the
universe follows infinite, or indefinite, self-sustaining cycles.
Besides, if ISO 8601 is to be useful in _any_ field, how about studies
of fiction, even science fiction? Anything can happen in fiction,
certainly time extending infinitely far in either direction -- or both.

(A parallel argument in mathematics is ironclad. Gauss died in 1865.
Near the end of the 19th century, yet another German mathematician,
George Cantor, created set theory, thereby providing a solid foundation
for using realized infinity. (He then used set theory to prove that
infinity comes in different sizes -- in fact, in infinitely many sizes!
But, fascinating as it is, that's another story.)

Okay, I admit I've also argued against forbidding "?/?"! But I don't
feel nearly as strongly about that, I'm not sure why; anyway it seems
one could by with the word "eternity" for it.

-Don


On 7/30/15 5:35 AM, Edward C. Zimmermann wrote:
> Hi All,
>
> I agree: It makes little sense to try to specify an unbounded interval of
> time in both directions. I will even argue that it makes no sense to even
> try to specify an unbounded interval in any direction.
>
> This is, I think, really no different from wanting to specify the range of
> mass for an object as being unbounded. It is NEVER unbounded. The smallest
> particle can not be sub-divided ad-infinitum. The mass of an object can't
> grow and grow. The Universe is widely accepted this days as not unbounded.
> There are limits.
>
> This is really quite different from uncertain or unknown bounds. If I say
> the film Minions runs open ended from 10 July 2015 I don't mean to say that
> it will run forever--- not even to the "End of Days" (Torah Numbers 24:14,
> which is a bounded moment that is, as yet, unknown to us)-- only that it
> will run to some moment in the future that is currently beyond my
> knowledge. It is not an open interval into the future but an interval of
> time that ends at some time I don't know. It is really no different from
> other times we discussed where we don't know something or are uncertain.
>
> In the other direction too we can't speak of dates prior to the "Big Bang".
> Cultures all seem to have a start of time. Abrahamic time is created after
> Beraschit: the creation of light and the seperation of darkness. From a
> Kantian prespective we can't speak of an unbounded apriori. Since we can't
> distinguish time from before this time we can't consider it time since it
> provides no basis to distinguish one moment from another.
>
> When someone says "up till now it has always been so".. they don't means to
> say unbounded to now. They mean from some unspecified time before now.
>
> For this we have, I think, long specified the solution.
>
>
> On Thu, 30 Jul 2015 05:05:08 +0000, Hakala, Juha E wrote
>> Hello [UTF-8?]Saašha,
>>
>> I have just a practical explanation why ?/? and other options you listed
> below should not be allowed.
>> To me, in the context of ISO 8601, an interval which is open at both ends
> is not meaningful. Either the end or the beginning of interval has to be
> specified since the meaning of ?/?, "/" and all the other intervals with
> unspecified or unknown beginning and end could be understood to mean
> eternity. Which is different from e.g. the age of the universe; that could
> be specified as an open ended interval starting from big bang about 13.798
> billion years ago.
>> We may of course assume that there is a platonic world of philosophical
> and other ideas out there, so when someone in India invented zero he/she
> just brought down to us something that has been there waiting for us out
> there even before the big bang. But I would not use this approach with ISO
> 8601. I'd rather specify an open ended interval starting from the first
> known or estimated occurrence of zero in surviving documents (I guess this
> is the librarian's approach to implementing ISO 8601 :-)).
>> One problem with encoding the age of ideas with ISO 8601 is that you
> would need to decide what belongs to the world of ideas and what was
> invented by us. Or, as German mathematician Leopold Kronecker put it, "God
> made the integers, all else is the work of man".
>> Best regards,
>>
>> Juha
>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Discussion of the Developing Date/Time Standards
>>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of [UTF-8?]Saašha
> Metsrantala
>>> Sent: 29. heinkuuta 2015 16:18
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Subject: Re: Open-end interval
>>>
>>> Hello!
>>>
>>> Thanks for all those interesting suggestions!
>>>
>>> As I understand our situation, the aim of our focus shift from EDTF to
> ISO-
>>> 8601-2 is not only a way to try to give this standard deeper roots but
> also a
>>> shift from a focus on date representations within the library / archive
>>> "culture" to a wider world of digital representation of date-time
> information.
>>> Keeping this in mind, I consider that we would need a deeper
> explanation to
>>> clarify why "unknown at both ends"
>>>
>>>> a construct like ?/? would be explicitly forbidden (as would "/" for
> open at
>>> both ends).
>>>
>>> This wider world may include, for example, philosophical ideas. Let's
> consider
>>> a "software" (or schema or some future something ...) requiring date
>>> information for (philosophical / ideological) assertions. How would we
> date
>>> the assertion / belief that
>>>
>>> "1 + 1 = 2"
>>>
>>> (assuming that the characters within this assertion keep today's
> meaning)?
>>> Other examples are welcome, of course. In other words, I suggest to
> clarify
>>> EITHER what "/" and "?/?" (as well as "/?" and "?/") would mean and in
> which
>>> cases these may be useful (in a wider perspective) OR more exactly why
> we
>>> choose to reject them.
>>>
>>> Regards!
>>>
>>> [UTF-8?]Saašha,
>
> --
>
> Edward C. Zimmermann, NONMONOTONIC LAB/BSn

--
Donald Byrd
Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellow
Adjunct Associate Professor of Informatics
Visiting Scientist, Research Technologies
Indiana University Bloomington

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