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Inquiry Driven Systems • Part 14

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Author: Jon Awbrey

Reflective Interpretive Frameworks (cont.)

The Bridge : Obstruction to Opportunity

There are many reasons for using intensional representations to describe formal objects, especially as the size and complexity of these objects grows beyond the bounds of finite information capacities to represent them in practical terms. This is extremely pertinent to the progress of the present discussion. As often happens, when a top-down investigation of complex families of formal objects actually succeeds in arriving at examples that are simple enough to contemplate in extensional terms, it can be difficult to see the relation of such impoverished examples to the cases of original interest, all of them typically having infinite cardinality and indefinite complexity. In short, once a discussion is brought down to the level of its smallest cases it can be nearly impossible to bring it back up to the level of its intended application. Without invoking intensional representations of sign relations there is little hope that this discussion can rise far beyond its present level, eternally elaborating the subtleties of cases as elementary as and

There are many obstacles to building this bridge, but if these forms of obstruction are understood in the proper fashion, it is possible to use them as stepping stones, to capitalize on their redoubtable structures, and to convert their recalcitrant materials into a formal calculus that can serve the aims and means of instruction.

This approach requires me to consider a chain of relationships that connects signs, names, concepts, properties, sets, and objects, along with various ways that these classes of entities have been viewed at different periods in the development of mathematical logic.

I would like to begin by giving an “impressionistic capsule history” of the relevant developments in mathematical logic, admittedly as viewed from a certain perspective, but hoping to allow room for alternative perspectives to have their way and present themselves in their own best light.

Variant 1. The human mind, boggling at the many to many relation between objects and signs that it finds in the world as soon as it begins to reflect on its own reasoning process, hits upon the strategy of interposing a realm of intermediate nodes between objects and signs, and looking through this medium for ways to factor the original relation into simpler components.

Variant 2. At the beginning of logic, the human mind, as soon as it begins to reflect on its own reasoning process, boggles at the many to many relation between objects and signs that it finds itself conducting through the world.

There are two methods for attempting to disentangle this confusion that are generally tried, the first more rarely, the second quite frequently, though apparently in opposite proportion to their respective chances of actual success. In order to describe the rationales of these methods I need to introduce a number of technical concepts.

Suppose and are dyadic relations, with and Then the contension of and is a triadic relation that is notated as and defined as follows.

In other words, is the intersection of the inverse projections and which are defined as follows:

Inverse projections are often referred to as extensions, in spite of the conflict this creates with the extensions of concepts and terms.

One of the standard turns of phrase that finds use in this setting, not only for translating between extensional representations and intensional representations, but for converting both into computational forms, is to associate any set contained in a space with two other types of formal objects: (1) a logical proposition known as the characteristic, indicative, or selective proposition of and (2) a boolean-valued function known as the characteristic, indicative, or selective function of

Strictly speaking, the logical entity is the intensional representation of the tribe, presiding at the highest level of abstraction, while and are its more concrete extensional representations, rendering its concept in functional and geometric materials, respectively. Whenever it is possible to do so without confusion, I try to use identical or similar names for the corresponding objects and species of each type, and I generally ignore the distinctions that otherwise set them apart. For instance, in moving toward computational settings, makes the best computational proxy for so I commonly refer to the mapping as a proposition on

Regarded as logical models, the elements of the contension satisfy the proposition referred to as the conjunction of extensions and

Next, the composition of and is a dyadic relation that is notated as and defined as follows.

In other words:

Begin Fragment. I will have to find my notes on this.

Using these notions, the customary methods for disentangling a many-to-many relation can be explained as follows:


In the logic of the ancients, the many-to-one relation of things to general names ...

End Fragment.

In early approaches to mathematical logic, from Leibniz to Peirce and Frege, one ordinarily spoke of the extensions and intensions of concepts.

Typically, one starts a work of bridge-building by casting a thin line across the intervening gap, using this expediency to conduct a slightly more substantial linkage over the rift, and then proceeding through a train of successors to draw increasingly stronger connections between the opposing shores until a load-bearing framework can be established. There is an analogue of this operation that fits the current situation, and this is something I can do this by taking up the sign relations and already introduced in extensional terms, and re-describing the abstract features of their structures in intensional terms.

This would be the ideal plan. But bridging the “tensions”, “ex-” and “in-”, that subsist within the forms of representation is not as easy as that. In order to convey the importance of the task and provide a motivation for carrying it out, I will plot a chain of relationships that stretches from signs, names, and concepts to properties, sets, and objects.

As a way of resolving the discerned “tensions”, posed here to fall into “ex-” and “in-” kinds, the strategy just described affords a way of approaching the problem that is less like a bridge than a pole vault, taking its pivot on a fixed set of narrowly circumscribed sign relations to make a transit from extensional to intensional outlooks on their form. With time and reflection, the logical depth of the supposed distinction, the “pretension” of maintaining a couple of separate but equal tensions in isolation from each other, does not withstand a persistent probing. Accordingly, the gulf between the two realms can always be fathomed by a finitely informed creature, in fact, by the very form of interpreter that created the fault in the first place. Consequently, converting the form of a transient vault into the substance of a usable bridge requires in adjunction only that initially pliable and ultimately tensile sorts of connecting lines be conducted along the tracery of the vault until the work of castling the gap can begin.

In the pragmatic theory of signs, the word representation is a technical term that is synonymous with the word sign, in other words, it applies to an entity in the most general category of things that can enter into sign relations in the roles of signs and interpretants. In this usage the scope of the term representation includes all sorts of syntactic, descriptive, and conceptual entities, a range of options I will frequently find it convenient to suggest by drawing on a pair of stock phrases: terms and concepts (TACs) in a conjunctive context versus terms or concepts (TOCs) in a disjunctive context.

In mathematics, the word representation is commonly reserved for referring to a homomorphism, that is, a linear transformation or a structure-preserving mapping between mathematical objects, that is, structure-bearing spaces in a category of comparable domains.

In keeping with the spirit of the current discussion, I will first present a set of examples that are designed to illustrate what I mean by an intensional representation. In general, an intensional representation of any object is a sign, description, or concept that denotes, describes, or conceives its object in terms of its properties, that is, in terms of the logical attributes that the object possesses or the propositional features that the object is supposed to have. If the object to be represented is a complex formal object like a sign relation, then there needs to be an intensional representation of each elementary sign relation and an intensional representation of the sign relation as a whole.

But first, before I try to tackle this project, it is advisable to seek a measure of theoretical advantage that I can bring to bear on the task. This I can do by anchoring my focal outlook on sign relations within a more global consideration of -place relations. Not only will this help with the conceptual recasting of and but it will also support later stages of the present work, especially in the effort to build a collection of readily accessible linkages between the extensions and the intensions of each construct that I try to use, and ultimately of each concept and term that might conceivably find a use in inquiry.

Projects of Representation

Note. This section is very rough and will need to be rewritten.

There are numerous modalities of description and representation that are involved in linking the extensions and intensions of terms and concepts. To facilitate the building of a suitable analytic and synthetic framework for this task, and to abbreviate future references to the categories of modalities that come into play, I will employ a set of technical notions, along with their aliases and acronyms, to be indicated next.

First of all, I want to call attention to a mode of description or a category of representation that logically precedes all forms of extensional representation and intensional representation. To do this, I introduce the notion of a project of representation and the mode or category of pre-tensional representation that contains the elements for attempting its actualization.

A project of representation, in the interval before its completion or its viability can be assured with any measurable degree of certainty, initiates a mode of description called a prospective representation or a pretended representation. Taken over time, the project of representation issues in a series of prospective representation notices, a sequence of explicit expressions that constitute its prospectus or pretension. If the project of representation turns out to be feasible, and if all goes well with its realization, then the promises tendered by these notes can be redeemed in full. Regarded from a retrospective vantage point, and ever contingent on the eventual success of the project of representation, what amounts to little more than a species of potentially attractive prospective representation bulletins can be valued ultimately as a set of successive approximations to the intended concept and, further, to the objective reality intended. It is only at this point that a piece of prospective representation achieves the virtues of an actual representation, embodying in its purported description a modicum of actually resolved tension, and becoming amenable to formalization as a non-degenerate example of a sign relation. This tells how a project of representation develops in time under conditions ideal enough to achieve its aim. Next, I describe the features of prospective representation as a form of existence sub specie aeternitatis.

Under the banner of prospective representation parades an uncontrolled and wide-ranging variety of pretended signs and prospective signs, entities with the alleged or apparent significance of signs, of likely stories that are potentially meaningful and useful as descriptions and representations, but the character of whose participation in a sign relation is yet to be judged and warranted. A certain quality of PR marks the brand of significance that a candidate sign possesses before it is known for certain whether it will be genuine or spurious in its role as a sign, the meagre benefit of the doubt that can be granted any reputed sign before its character as an authentic sign has been tested in the performance of its assigned functions.

The prospects and pretensions of prospective representation are associated with a quality of tension that prevails on the scene of representation even before it is definite that objects have signs and signs have objects, an uncertain character that supervenes on the stage before one is sure that a project of representation will succeed in its intentions — far enough for its extension to stretch over many determinate instances, or well enough for its intension to hold forth any distinctive properties. This whole modality of allegation and aspiration, given the self described significance and uncertified self-advertisement that signs in all their immature phases and developmental crises cannot help but affect, taken along with the valid ambitions of potential signs to become signs in fact, is a class of pretended and prospective meaning that it seems fitting to label as a category of pretensional representation.

The assortment of prospective representation mechanisms that goes into a run-of-the-mill project of representation is a rather odd lot, drawing into its curious train every style of potential, preliminary, prospective, provisional, purported, putative, and otherwise pretensional representation. The motley array of artifice and device that is permitted under this gangly heading seems ill-suited to becoming recognized as a natural category, and perhaps it is destined to persist for all time pretty much as one presently finds it, too quixotic to regiment fully and too recalcitrant to organize under compact terms. For the purposes of the current project, the point of distinguishing the category of prospective representation as a mode of description is twofold:

  1. The category of prospective representation is drawn up to encompass the categories of extensional representation and intensional representation and to allow the creation or recognition of a collection of continuities and correspondences between them.
  2. The prospective representation mode of description draws attention to several important facts about the more problematic phases of interpretation and inquiry processes, especially including the inchoate actions of their initial stages and the moments when global paradigm shifts are manifestly in progress. All that interpreters have to go on for much of the intermediate time that they spend involved in the sign formation processes of inquiry is a type of prospective representation.

Variant. The purpose of these prospective representation labels is to draw attention to the indirect character and the allusory nature of the interpretive processes that contribute to the initial stages and non-routine phases of inquiry.

Variant. The point of pointing out the indirect character and the allusory nature of all prospective representation is to draw attention to the circumstance that intelligent agents of interpretation and inquiry have to be capable of waiting, trading, and acting on purported and potential representations. To proceed at all from the conditions prevailing at the outset of inquiry, they have to lead off from the slightest inklings that a problematic phenomenon may disclose an objective reality that is a key to its resolution, to take their initial direction from uncertain signs that an object of value might be in the offing, and to open the bidding on a brand of improper symbols whose very qualifications as representations are required by the nature of interpretive inquiry to remain in question for much of the mean time taken up by the pursuit of the alleged objects. It is part of the task that prospective representation is all these agents have to go on, …

Extensional descriptions of -place relations are the kinds that can be presented in relational data tables, or at least initiated and partially illustrated in this form. If an -place relation is constituted as a finite information construction, where the relation as a whole plus each of its elements is specified in discrete and finite terms, then the prospective tabulation can be carried out to completion, at least in principle, explicitly enumerating the elementary relations or the -tuples of relational domain elements that enter into the relation.

Extensional descriptions are so close to what one casually and commonly regards as “immediate experience” that the knowledge of a relation one gains by means of their indications is often not thought to lie in the medium of description at all. The acquaintance with the character of an objective relation that extensional descriptions so successfully manage to record and convey is a type of impression that one often fails to reflect on as arriving through signs at all, and thus it can leave an impression of knowing its object that is susceptible to being confounded with a direct experience of the relation itself.

This does not have to be a bad thing in practice. Indeed, it is a factor contributing to the success of extensional descriptions that an agent can usually afford to remain oblivious to the more indirect aspects of their interpretation, to proceed with impunity to take them at face value, and unless there is some obvious trouble to work on the assumption that they are in fact nothing more than what they seem to denote. Thus, one often finds extensional presentations treated as though they arose from radically empirical sources of data, instituting fundamentally pure modes of “knowledge by acquaintance” and reputed to lie in meaningful contradistinction to every other type of representation, the rest falling into categories that grade them as mere “knowledge by description”. However, when it comes to the ends of deliberate design and analysis, the usual assumptions can no longer be relied on to justify their own usage, and they need to make themselves available for examination whenever the limits of their usefulness are called into question.

One of the purposes of introducing an explicit theory of sign relations into the present study of inquiry is to examine the status of this idea, namely, that it makes sense to posit an absolute distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description. Pragmatic thinking begins with a certain amount of skepticism toward this notion, on account of the many illusions that appear to trace their origins to it, but overall it seeks to arrive at a language in which to examine the question thoroughly, and to devise a means for individual interpreters to make a clear choice for themselves, with respect to the possibly of their purposes being divergent in the mean time, one way or the other.

Whatever the outcome of these individual decisions, independent in principle no matter how they turn out in practice, and without forcing the preliminary acknowledgement of any unavoidable gulf or unbridgeable abyss that might be imagined to separate the modalities of acquaintance and description, one nevertheless wants to preserve the practical uses of the comparative, interpretive, relative, and otherwise sufficiently qualified and circumspect orderings of data and descriptions along these lines that can be organized by individual interpreters and communities of interpretation. It is for these reasons that I have taken the trouble to conduct this discussion in a way that diverts some attention toward its own casual context, and I hope that this strategy is able to reflect, or at least scatter, enough light back on the enfolding context of informal sign relations that it can dispel any inkling of an automatic distinction of this form, or at least to cast doubts on the remaining traces of its illusion.

For the rest of this section I restrict the discussion to sign relations of the type and elementary sign relations of the form

A discussion of concrete examples, intended to serve as a preparatory treatment for approaching a significantly more complex area, is necessarily limited in its focus to isolated cases, in effect, to those that remain simple enough to be instructive in a preliminary approach to the topic. This means that the observable properties of the initial examples, with respect to the class they are aimed to exemplify, will sort themselves into two kinds: (1) their essential, generic, or genuine properties, and (2) their accidental, factitious, or spurious properties.

But the present discussion of sign relations cannot illustrate the properties of even these elementary examples in an adequate way without considering extended multitudes of other relations, both those that share the same properties and those that do not. Consequently, by way of getting the comparative study of sign relations started on a casual basis, an end that is served in addition by placing sign relations within the broader setting of -place relations, I will exploit a few devices of taxonomic nomenclature, intending them to be applied for the moment in a purely informal way.

An order, genus, or species of relations is a class or set of relations that obey a particular collection of axioms, or that satisfy a certain combination of operational constraints and axiomatic properties. These respective terms, given in order of increasing specificity, are not intended to be applied too systematically, but only roughly to indicate how many axioms are listed in the specification of a class of relations and thus how narrowly the indicated class is pinned down relative to other classes within the context of a particular discussion.

For example, this terminology allows me to indicate a general order of sign relations each of whose connotative components is an equivalence relation, and then it allows me to extend this investigation by pursuing the prospective existence of a generalized order of sign relations each of which has many properties analogous to the sign relations in with the exception or extension that is more broadly formulated in certain designated respects.

The purpose of these informal taxonomic distinctions is not to specify absolute levels of generality, something that could not be achieved in a global manner without splitting hierarchies of hereditary properties and the whole host of their successive heirs down to the ultimate pedigrees, but merely to organize properties relative to each other in comparative terms, in which case three levels of generality are usually enough to orient oneself locally in any ontology, no matter how wide or deep. Thus, the main interest that the terms order, genus, and species will subserve in this connection is to indicate the taxonomic directions of generalization and specialization that a particular investigation is trying to achieve among classes of relations: generalizing a class by abstracting features or removing constraints from its original definition, and specializing a class by concretizing features or adding constraints to its initial characterization.

In order to talk and think about any sign relation at all, not to mention addressing the topic of a generic order of sign relations, one has to use signs to do it, and this requires one's taking part in what can be called a higher order of sign relations. By way of definition, a sign relation is a higher order sign relation if some of its signs refer to objects that are themselves sign relations or classes of sign relations.

So long as one expects to deal with only a few sign relations at a time, managing to use only a few conventional names to denote each of them, then one's participation in a higher order sign relation hardly ever becomes too problematic, and it rarely needs to be formalized in order for one to cope with the duties of serving as its unofficial interpreter. Once a reflective involvement with higher order sign relations gets started, however, there will be difficulties that continue to grow and lurk just beneath the apparently conversant surface of their all too facile fluency.

By way of example, a singular sign that denotes an entire sign relation refers by extension to a class of elementary sign relations, or a set of transaction triples So far, this is still not too much of a problem. But when one begins to develop large numbers of conventional symbols and complicated formulas for referring to the same classes of sign transactions, then considerations of effective and efficient interpretation will demand that these symbols and formulas be organized into semantic equivalence classes with recognizable characters. That is, one is forced to find computable types of similarity relations defined on pairs of symbols and pairs of formulas that tell whether they refer to the same class of sign transactions or not. It is almost inevitable in such a situation that canonical representatives of these equivalence classes will have to be developed, and a means for transforming arbitrarily complex and obscure expressions into optimally simple and clear equivalents will also become necessary.

At this stage one is brought face to face with the task of implementing a full fledged interpreter for a particular higher order sign relation, summarized as follows:

  1. The objects of are the abstract classes of transactions that constitute the sign relations in question.
  2. The signs of are the collection of symbols and formulas used as conventional names and analytic expressions for the sign relations in question.
  3. The interpretants of

But a generic name intended to reference a whole class of sign relations is another matter altogether, especially when it comes into play in a comparative study of many different orders of relations.

Connected, Integrated, Reflective Symbols

Triadic relations need to be recognized as the minimal subsistents or staple elements of continuity that are capable of keeping the symbols for generalized objects or “hypostatic abstractions” viable in practice. In order to remain fully functioning in all the ways that initially make them useful, abstract terms have to stay connected in each of the many directions of relationship that make their use both flexible and stable, namely, (1) attached to the substantive particulars of their denotations, (2) dedicated to the associational and definitional connotations that constitute their law-abiding participation in a commonwealth of other abstract terms, (3) relevant to the ongoing understanding of inquiring agents and interpretive communities. Anything less, any attempt to use staple structural elements of lower arity than triadic bonds is bound to corrupt in time the dimensional solidity of these symbolic amalgamations.

In order for its knowledge to be reflective, an intelligent system must have the ability to reason about sign relations, not only the ones in which it operates but also the ones in which it might participate. A natural way of approaching this task is to consider the domain of sign relations set within the embedding framework of -place relations, since resourcefulness with relations in general is something that a reasonably competent knowledge-based system will need anyway.

Now here is a class of mathematical objects, -place relations, that are worthy of some thought, no matter what application might be intended, and given the levels of combinatorial complexity that their study raises, it is likely that suitable software will need to play a role in their investigation.

One of the ways that the design principles declared above bear on the application to -place relations is as follows. In order to support reasoning about general classes of relations, and sign relations in particular, a computational system (or implemented formal system) must have signs or names that are available to refer to the subject matter of particular relations and symbols or formulas that are able to represent predicates of relations. If these references and representations are to avoid all the various ways of becoming logically empty and effectively vacuous — something they can do (1) by failing to have sufficient denotation from the very outset or (2) by exceeding the conceptual and computational bounds needed to maintain consistency and tractability at any subsequent stage of processing their indications — then …

Relations in General

In a realistic computational framework, where incomplete and inconsistent information is the rule, it is necessary to work with genera of relations that are increasingly relaxed in their constraining characters but still preserve a measure of analogy with the fundamental species of relations that are found to be prevalent in perfect information contexts.

In the present application the kinds of relations of primary interest are functions, equivalence relations, and other species of relations defined by axiomatic properties. Thus, the information-theoretic generalizations of these structures lead to partially defined functions and partially constrained versions of these specially defined classes of relations.

The purpose of this Section is to outline the kinds of generalized functions and other families of relations that are needed to extend the discussion of the present example. In this connection, to frame the problem in concrete terms, I need to adapt the square bracket notation for two generalizations of equivalence relations, to be defined below. But first, a number of broader issues need to be treated.

Generally speaking, one is free to interpret references to generalized objects either as indications of partially formed analogues or as partially informed descriptions of their corresponding species. I refer to these alternatives as the object-theoretic and the sign-theoretic options, respectively. The first interpretation assumes that vague and general references still have denotations, merely to vague and general objects. The second interpretation ascribes the partialities of information to the characters of the signs and expressions that are doing the denoting. In most cases that arise in casual discussion the choice between these conventions is purely stylistic. However, in many of the more intricate situations that arise in formal discussion the object choice often fails utterly, and whenever the utmost care is required it will usually be the attention to signs that saves the day.

In order to speak of generalized orders of relations I need to outline the dimensions of variation along which I intend the characters of already familiar orders of relations to be broadened. Generally speaking, the taxonomic features of -place relations that I wish to liberalize can be read off from their local incidence properties (LIPs).

Definition. A local incidence property of a -place relation is one that is based on the following type of data. Pick an element in one of the domains of Let be a subset of called the flag of with at or the flag of The local flag is defined as follows.

Any property of constitutes a local incidence property of with reference to the locus

Definition. A -place relation is -regular at if and only if every flag of with at is letting range over the domain in symbols, if and only if is true for all

Of particular interest are the local incidence properties of relations that can be calculated from the cardinalities of their local flags, and these are naturally called numerical incidence properties (NIPs).

For example, is if and only if the cardinality of the local flag is equal to for all coded in symbols, if and only if for all

In a similar fashion, it is possible to define the numerical incidence properties and so on. For ease of reference, a few of these definitions are recorded below.

The definition of local flags can be broadened to give a definition of regional flags. Suppose and choose a subset Let be a subset of called the flag of with at or the flag of defined as follows.

Returning to dyadic relations, it is useful to describe some familiar classes of objects in terms of their local and numerical incidence properties. Let be an arbitrary dyadic relation. The following properties of can then be defined.

If is tubular at then is known as a partial function or a prefunction from to indicated by writing We have the following definitions and notations.

If is a prefunction that happens to be total at then is known as a function from to indicated by writing To say that a relation is totally tubular at is to say that is 1-regular at Thus, we may formalize the following definitions.

In the case of a 2-adic relation that has the qualifications of a function there are a number of further differentia that arise.

A few more comments on terminology are needed in further preparation. One of the constant practical demands encountered in this project is to have available a language and a calculus for relations that can permit discussion and calculation to range over functions, dyadic relations, and -place relations with a minimum amount of trouble in making transitions from subject to subject and in drawing the appropriate generalizations.

Up to this point in the discussion, the analysis of the and dialogue has concerned itself almost exclusively with the relationship of triadic sign relations to the dyadic relations obtained from them by taking their projections onto various relational planes. In particular, a major focus of interest was the extent to which salient properties of sign relations can be gleaned from a study of their dyadic projections.

Two important topics for later discussion will be concerned with: (1) the sense in which every -place relation can be decomposed in terms of triadic relations, and (2) the fact that not every triadic relation can be further reduced to conjunctions of dyadic relations.

Variant. It is one of the constant technical needs of this project to maintain a flexible language for talking about relations, one that permits discussion to shift from functional to relational emphases and from dyadic relations to -place relations with a maximum of ease. It is not possible to do this without violating the favored conventions of one technical linguistic community or another. I have chosen a strategy of use that respects as many different usages as possible, but in the end it cannot help but to reflect a few personal choices. To some extent my choices are guided by an interest in developing the information, computation, and decision-theoretic aspects of the mathematical language used. Eventually, this requires one to render every distinction, even that of appearing or not in a particular category, as being relative to an interpretive framework.

While operating in this context, it is necessary to distinguish domains in the broad sense from domains of definition in the narrow sense. For -place relations it is convenient to use the terms domain and quorum as references to the wider and narrower sets, respectively.

For a -place relation we have the following usages.

  1. The notation denotes the set called the domain of at or the domain of .
  2. The notation denotes a subset of called the quorum of at or the quorum of defined as follows.

In the special case of a dyadic relation including the case of a partial function or a total function we have the following conventions.

  1. The arbitrarily designated domains and that form the widest sets admitted to the dyadic relation are referred to as the domain or source and the codomain or target, respectively, of the relation in question.
  2. The terms quota and range are reserved for those uniquely defined sets whose elements actually appear as the first and second members, respectively, of the ordered pairs in that relation. Thus, for a dyadic relation we identify with what is usually called the domain of definition of and we identify with the usual range of

A partial equivalence relation (PER) on a set is a relation that is an equivalence relation on its domain of definition In this situation, is empty for each in that is not in Another way of reaching the same concept is to call a PER a dyadic relation that is symmetric and transitive, but not necessarily reflexive. Like the “self-identical elements” of old that epitomized the very definition of self-consistent existence in classical logic, the property of being a self-related or self-equivalent element in the purview of a PER on singles out the members of as those for which a properly meaningful existence can be contemplated.

A moderate equivalence relation (MER) on the modus is a relation on whose restriction to is an equivalence relation on In symbols, such that is an equivalence relation. Notice that the subset of restriction, or modus is a part of the definition, so the same relation on could be a MER or not depending on the choice of In spite of how it sounds, a moderate equivalence relation can have more ordered pairs in it than the ordinary sort of equivalence relation on the same set.

In applying the equivalence class notation to a sign relation the definitions and examples considered so far cover only the case where the connotative component is a total equivalence relation on the whole syntactic domain The next job is to adapt this usage to PERs.

If is a sign relation whose syntactic projection is a PER on then we may still write for the “equivalence class of under ”. But now, can be empty if has no interpretant, that is, if lies outside the “adequately meaningful” subset of the syntactic domain, where synonymy and equivalence of meaning are defined. Otherwise, if has an then it also has an by the definition of In this case, there is a triple and it is permissible to let

Partiality : Selective Operations

One of the main subtasks of this project is to develop a computational framework for carrying out set-theoretic operations on abstractly represented classes and for reasoning about their indicated results. This effort has the general aim of enabling one to articulate the structures of -place relations and the special aim of allowing one to reflect theoretically on the properties and projections of sign relations. A prototype system that makes a beginning in this direction has already been implemented, to which the current work contributes a major part of the design philosophy and technical documentation. This section presents the rudiments of set-theoretic notation in a way that conforms to these goals, taking the development only so far as needed for immediate application to sign relations like and

One of the most important design considerations that goes into building the requisite software system is how well it furthers certain lines of abstraction and generalization. One of these dimensions of abstraction or directions of generalization is discussed in this section, where I attempt to unify its many appearances under the theme of partiality. This name is chosen to suggest the desired sense of abstract intention since the extensions of concepts that it favors and for which it leaves room are outgrowths of the limitation that finite signs and expressions can never provide more than partial information about the richness of individual detail that is always involved in any real object. All in all, this modicum of tolerance for uncertainty is the very play in the wheels of determinism that provides a significant chance for luck to play a part in the finer steps toward finishing every real objective.

If a slogan is needed to charge this form of propagation, it is only that “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In other words, it is precisely this lack of perfect information that yields the opportunity for novel forms of speciation to develop among finitely informed creatures (FICs), and just this need of perfect information that drives the evolving forms of independent determination and spontaneous creation in any area, no matter how well the arena is circumscribed by the restrictions of signs.

In tracing the echoes of this theme, it is necessary to reflect on the circumstance that degenerate sign relations happen to be perfectly possible in practice, and it is desirable to provide a critical method that can address the facts of their flaws in theoretically insightful terms. Relative to particular environments of interpretation, nothing proscribes the occurrence of sign relations that are defective in any of their various facets, namely: (1) with signs that fail to denote or connote, (2) with interpretants that lack of being faithfully represented or reliably objectified, and (3) with objects that make no impression or remain ineffable in the preferred medium.

A cursory examination of the topic of partiality, as just surveyed, reveals two strains fixing how this “quality of murky” in general reigns. This division depends on the disposition of -tuples as the individual elements that inhabit an -place relation.

  1. If the integrity of elementary relations as n-tuples is maintained, then the predicate of partiality characterizes only the state of information that one has, either about elementary relations or about entire relations, or both. Thus, this strain of partiality affects the determination of relations at two distinct levels of their formation:
    1. At the level of elementary relations, it frees up the point to which -tuples are pinned down by signs or expressions of relations by modifying the name that indicates or the formula that specifies a relation.
    2. At the level of entire relations, it relaxes the grip that axioms and constraints have on the character of a relation by modifying the strictness or generalizing the form of their application.
  2. If partial -tuples are admitted, and not permitted to be confused with -tuples, then one arrives at the concept of an -place relational complex.

Relational Complex?

Sign Relational Complex?

It is possible to see two directions of remove that signs and concepts can take in departing from complete specifications of individual objects, and thus to see two dimensions of variation in the requisite varieties of partiality, each of which leads off into its own distinctive realm of abstraction.

  1. In a direction of generality, with general signs and concepts, one loses an amount of certainty as to exactly what object the sign or concept applies at any given moment, and thus this can be recognized as an extensional type of abstraction.
  2. In a direction of vagueness, with vague signs and concepts, one loses a degree of security as to exactly what property the sign or concept implies in the current context, and thus this can be classified as an intensional mode of abstraction.

The first order of business is to draw some distinctions, and at the same time to note some continuities, between the varieties of partiality that remain to be sufficiently clarified and the more mundane brands of partiality that are already familiar enough for present purposes, but lack perhaps only the formality of being recognized under that heading.

The most familiar illustrations of information-theoretic partiality, partial indication, or “signs bearing partial information about objects” occur every time one uses a general name, for example, the name of a class, genus, or set. Almost as commonly, the formula that expresses a logical proposition can be regarded as a partial specification of its logical models or satisfying interpretations. Just as the name of a class or genus can be taken as a partially informed reference or a plural indefinite reference (PIR) to one of its elements or species, so the name of an -place relation can be viewed as a PIR to one of its elementary relations or -tuples, and the formula or expression of a proposition can be understood as a PIR to one its models or satisfying interpretations. For brevity, this variety of referential indetermination can be called the generic partiality of signs as information bearers.

Note. In this discussion I will not systematically distinguish between the logical entity typically called a proposition or a statement and the syntactic entity usually called an expression, formula, or sentence. Instead, I work on the assumption that both types of entity are always involved in everything one proposes and also on the hope that context will determine which aspect of proposing is most apt. For precision, the abstract category of propositions proper will have to be reconstituted as logical equivalence classes of syntactically diverse expressions. For the present, I will use the phrase propositional expression whenever it is necessary to call particular attention to the syntactic entity. Likewise, I will not always separate higher order propositions, that is, propositions about propositions, from their corresponding formulations in the guise of higher order propositional expressions.

Even though partial information is the usual case of information (as rendered by signs about objects) I will continue to use this phrase, for all its informative redundancy, to emphasize the issues of partial definition, determination, and specification that arise under the pervasive theme of partiality.

In speaking of properties and classes of relations, one would like to allude to all relations as the implicit domain of discussion, setting each particular topic against this optimally generous and neutral background. But even before discussion is restricted to a computational framework the notion of all (of almost anything) proves to be problematic in its very conception, not always amenable to assuming a consistent concept. So the connotation of all relations — really just a passing phrase that pops up in casual and careless discussions — must be relegated to the status of an informal concept, one that takes on definite meaning only when related to a context of constructive examples and formal models.

Thus, in talking sensibly about properties and classes of relations, one is always invoking, explicitly or implicitly, a preconceived domain of discussion or an established universe of discourse and in relation to this one is always talking, expressly or otherwise, about a selected subset that exhibits the property in question and a binary-valued selector function that picks out the class in question.

When the subject matter of discussion is bounded by a universal set out of which all objects referred to must come, then every PIR to an object can be identified with the name or formula (sign or expression) of a subset or else with that of its selector function Conceptually, one imagines generating all the objects in and then selecting the ones that satisfy a definitive test for membership in

In a realistic computational framework, however, when the domain of interest is given generatively in a genuine sense of the word, that is, defined solely in terms of the primitive elements and operations that are needed to generate it, and when the resource limitations in actual effect make it impractical to enumerate all the possibilities in advance of selecting the adumbrated subset, then the implementation of PIRs becomes a genuine computational problem.

Considered in its application to -place relations, the generic brand of partial specification constitutes a rather limited type of partiality, in that every element conceived as falling under the specified relation, no matter how indistinctly indicated, is still envisioned to maintain its full arity and to remain every bit a complete, though unknown, -tuple. Still, there is a simple way to extend the concept of generic partiality in a significant fashion, achieving a form of PIRs to relations by making use of higher order propositions.

Extending the concept of generic partiality, by iterating the principle on which it is based, leads to higher order propositions about elementary relations, or propositions about relations, as one way to achieve partial specifications of relations, or PIRs to relations.

This direction of generalization expands the scope of PIRs by means of an analogical extension, and can be charted in the following manner. If the sign or expression (name or formula) of an -place relation can be interpreted as a proposition about -tuples and thus as a PIR to an elementary relation, then a higher order proposition about -tuples is a proposition about -place relations that can be used to formulate a PIR to an -place relation.

In order to formalize these ideas, it is helpful to have notational devices for switching back and forth among different ways of exemplifying what is abstractly the same contents of information, in particular, for translating among sets, their logical expressions, and their functional indications.

Given a set and a subset let the selector function of in be notated as and defined as follows.

Other names for the same concept, appearing under various notations, are the characteristic function or the indicator function of in

Conversely, given a boolean-valued function let the selected set of in be notated as and defined as follows.

Other names for the same concept are the fiber, level set, or pre-image of 1 under the mapping

Obviously, the relation between these operations is such that the following equations hold.

It will facilitate future discussions to go through the details of applying these selective operations to the case of -place relations. If is an -place relation, then is the selector of defined as follows.

Sign Relational Complexes

In a computational framework, indeed, in any constructively analytic and practically applied setting, the problem of working with insufficient information to fully determine one's object is a constant feature that goes with the territory of finite information constructions (FICs). The fineness of detail that is able to be specified by formal symbols is continually bedeviled by the frustrating truncations of every signal to a finite code and by the resistive constrictions of every intention to the restrictive confines of what can actually be conducted. Of course, one tries to get around the more finessible limitations, but the figurative extensions that one hopes to achieve by recourse to quasi-circular definitions and by reversion to parable and hyperbole — all of these tactics appeal to a pre-established aptness of reception on the part of interpreters that begs the very question of a determinate understanding and that risks falling short of the exact attitude needed for success. At any rate, the indirect strategy of approach relies on such large reserves of enthymeme to fuel its course that the grasp of a period to set bounds on its argument and fix a term to its conclusion is often found diverging in ways that both underreach and overreach its object, and well-founded or not the search for a generic method of definition typically ends so completely dumbfounded that it often trails off into the inescapable vacuity of a quasi terminal ellipsis …

This section treats the problems of insufficient information and indeterminate objects under the heading of partializations, using this as a briefer term for the information-theoretic generalizations of the relevant object domains that take the use of indeterminate denotations, or partial determinations of objects, explicitly into account.

In working with partializations or information-theoretic generalizations of any subject matter, one has a choice between two options:

  1. Under the object-theoretic alternative one views the partiality as something attaching to the objects of discussion. Consequently, one operates as if the problems distinctive of the extended subject matter were questions of managing ordinary information about a strange new breed of partial objects.
  2. Under the sign-theoretic alternative one takes the partiality as something affecting only the signs used in discussion. Accordingly, one approaches the task as a matter of handling partial information about ordinary objects, namely, the same domains of objects initially given at the outset of discussion.

But a working maxim of information theory says that “Partial information is your ordinary information.” Applied to the principle regulating the sign-theoretic convention this means that the adjective partial is swallowed up by the substantive information, so that the ostensibly more general case is always already subsumed within the ordinary case. Because partiality is part and parcel to the usual nature of information, it is a perfectly typical feature of the signs and expressions bearing it to provide normally only partial information about ordinary objects.

The only time when a finite sign or expression can give the appearance of determining a perfectly precise content or a post-finite amount of information, for example, when the symbol is used to denote the number also known as “the unique base of the natural logarithms” — this can only happen when interpreters are prepared, by dint of the information embodied in their prior design and preliminary training, to accept as meaningful and be terminally satisfied with what is still only a finite content, syntactically speaking. Every remaining impression that a perfectly determinate object, an individual in the original sense of the word, has nevertheless been successfully specified — this can only be the aftermath of some prestidigitation, that is, the effect of some pre-arranged consensus, for example, of accepting a finite system of definitions and axioms that are supposed to define the space and the element within it, and of remembering or imagining that an effective proof system has once been able or will yet be able to convince one of its demonstrations.

Ultimately, one must be prepared to work with probability distributions that are defined on entire spaces of the relevant objects or outcomes. But probability distributions are just a special class of functions where is the real line, and this means that the corresponding theory of partializations involves the dual aspect of the domain dealing with the functionals defined on it, or the functions that map it into coefficient spaces. And since it is unavoidable in a computational framework, one way or another every type of coefficient information, real or otherwise, must be approached bit by bit. That is, all information is defined in terms of the either-or decisions that must be made to determine it. So, to make a long story short, one might as well approach this dual aspect by starting with the functions in effect, with the logic of propositions.

I turn now to the question of partially specified relations, or partially informed relations (PIRs), in other words, to the explicit treatment of relations in terms of the information that is logically possessed or actually expressed about them. There seem to be several ways to approach the concept of an -place PIR and the supporting notion of a partially specified -tuple. Since the term partial relation is already implicitly in use for the general class of relations that are not necessarily total on any of their domains, I will coin the term pro-relation, on analogy with pronoun and proposition, to denote an expression of information about a relation, a contingent indication that, if and when completed, conceivably points to a particular relation.

One way to deal with partially informed categories of -place relations is to contemplate incomplete relational forms or schemata. Regarded over the years chiefly in logical and intensional terms, constructs of roughly this type have been variously referred to as rhemes or rhemata (Peirce), unsaturated relations (Frege), or frames (in current AI parlance). Expressed in extensional terms, talking about partially informed categories of -place relations is tantamount to admitting elementary relations with missing elements. The question is not just syntactic — How to represent an -tuple with empty places? — but also semantic — How to make sense of an -tuple with less than elements?

In order to deal with PIRs in a thoroughly consistent fashion, it appears necessary to contemplate elementary relations that present themselves as being unsaturated (in Frege's sense of that term), in other words, to consider elements of a presumptive product space that in some sense wanna be -tuples or would be sequences of a certain length, but are currently missing components in some of their places.

To the extent that the issues of partialization become obvious at the level of symbols and can be dealt with by elementary syntactic means, they initially make their appearance in terms of the various ways that data can go missing.

The alternate notation is provided for the ordered pair This choice of representation for ordered pairs is especially apt in the case of concrete indices and localized addresses, where one wants the lead item to serve as a pointed reminder of the itemized content, as in and it helps to stress the individuality of each member in the indexed family, as in the following set of equivalent notations.

The link device works well in any situation where one desires to accentuate the fact that a formal subscript is being reclaimed and elevated to the status of an actual parameter. By way of the operation indicated by the link symbol the index bound to an object term can be rehabilitated as a full-fledged component of an elementary relation, thereby schematically embedding the indicated object in the experiential space of a typical agent.

The form of the link notation is intended to suggest the use of pointers and views in computational frameworks, letting one interpret in several different ways, for example, any one of the following.

Presently, the distinction between indirect pointers and direct pointers, that is, between virtual copies and actual views of an objective domain, is not yet relevant here, being a dimension of variation that the discussion is currently abstracting over.

Set-Theoretic Constructions

The next few sections deal with the informational relationships that exist between -place relations and the relations of fewer dimensions that arise as their projections. A number of set-theoretic constructions of constant use in this investigation are brought together and described in the present section. Because their intended application is mainly to sign relations and other triadic relations, and since the current focus is restricted to discrete examples of these types, no attempt is made to present these constructions in their most general and elegant fashions, but only to deck them out in the forms that are most readily pressed into immediate service.

An initial set of operations, required to establish the subsequent constructions, all have in common the property that they do exactly the opposite of what is normally done in abstracting sets from situations. These operations reconstitute, though still in a generic, schematic, or stereotypical manner, some of the details of concrete context and interpretive nuance that are commonly suppressed in forming sets. Stretching points back along the direction of their initial pointing out, these extensions return to the mix a well-chosen selection of features, putting back in those dimensions from which ordinary sets are forced to abstract and in their ordination to treat as distractions.

In setting up these constructions, one typically makes use of two kinds of index sets, in colloquial terms, clipboards and scrapbooks.

  1. The smaller and shorter-term index sets, typically having the form are used to keep tabs on the terms of finite sets and sequences, unions and intersections, sums and products.

    In this context and elsewhere, the notation will be used to refer to a standard segment (finite initial subset) of the natural numbers

  2. The larger and longer-term index sets, typically having the form are used to enumerate families of objects that enjoy a more abiding reference throughout the course of a discussion.

Definition. An indicated set is an ordered pair where is the indicator of the set and is the set indicated.

Definition. An indited set extends the incidental and extraneous indication of a set into a constant indictment of its entire membership.

Notice the difference between these notions and the more familiar concepts of an indexed set, numbered set, and enumerated set. In each of these cases the construct that results is one where each element has a distinctive index attached to it. In contrast, the above indications and indictments attach to the set as a whole, and respectively to each element of it, the same index number

Definition. An indexed set is constructed from two components: its underlying set and its indexing relation where is total at and tubular at It is defined as follows:

assigns a unique set of “local habitations” to each element in the underlying set

Definition. A numbered set based on the set and the injective function is defined as follows. …

Definition. An enumerated set is a numbered set with a bijective

Definition. The -fold sum (co-product, disjoint union) of the sets is notated and defined as follows:

Definition. The -fold product (cartesian product) of the sets is notated and defined as follows:

As an alternative definition, the -tuples of can be regarded as sequences of elements from the successive and thus as functions that map into the sum of the namely, as the functions that obey the condition

Viewing these functions as relations where

Another way to view these elements is as triples such that

Reducibility of Sign Relations

This Section introduces a topic of fundamental importance to the whole theory of sign relations, namely, the question of whether triadic relations are determined by, reducible to, or reconstructible from their dyadic projections.

Suppose is an arbitrary triadic relation and consider the information about that is provided by collecting its dyadic projections. To formalize this information define the projective triple of as follows:

If is visualized as a solid body in the 3-dimensional space then can be visualized as the arrangement or ordered collection of shadows it throws on the planes, respectively.

Two more set-theoretic constructions are worth introducing at this point, in particular for describing the source and target domains of the projection operator

The set of subsets of a set is called the power set of This object is denoted by either of the forms or and defined as follows:

The power set notation can be used to provide an alternative description of relations. In the case where is a cartesian product, say then each -place relation described as a subset of say is equally well described as an element of in other words, as

The set of triples of dyadic relations, with pairwise cartesian products chosen in a pre-arranged order from a triple of three sets is called the dyadic explosion of This object is denoted read as the explosion of by twos, or more simply as and defined as follows:

This domain is defined well enough to serve the immediate purposes of this section, but later it will become necessary to examine its construction more closely.

By means of these constructions the operation that forms for each triadic relation can be expressed as a function:

In this setting the issue of whether triadic relations are reducible to or reconstructible from their dyadic projections, both in general and in specific cases, can be identified with the question of whether is injective. The mapping is said to preserve information about the triadic relations if and only if it is injective, otherwise one says that some loss of information has occurred in taking the projections. Given a specific instance of a triadic relation it can be said that is determined by (reducible to or reconstructible from) its dyadic projections if and only if is the singleton set Otherwise, there exists an such that and in this case is said to be irreducibly triadic or genuinely triadic. Notice that irreducible or genuine triadic relations, when they exist, naturally occur in sets of two or more, the whole collection of them being equated or confounded with one another under

The next series of Tables illustrates the operation of by means of its actions on the sign relations and For ease of reference, Tables 72.1 and 73.1 repeat the contents of Tables 1 and 2, respectively, while the dyadic relations comprising and are shown in Tables 72.2 to 72.4 and Tables 73.2 to 73.4, respectively.

A comparison of the corresponding projections in and shows that the distinction between the triadic relations and is preserved by and this circumstance allows one to say that this much information, at least, can be derived from the dyadic projections. However, to say that a triadic relation is reducible in this sense it is necessary to show that no distinct exists such that and this can take a rather more exhaustive or comprehensive investigation of the space

As it happens, each of the relations or is uniquely determined by its projective triple This can be seen as follows.

Consider any coordinate position in the plane If is not in then there can be no element in therefore we may restrict our attention to positions in knowing that there exist at least elements in and seeking only to determine what objects exist such that is an element in the objective fiber of In other words, for what is The fact that has exactly one element for each coordinate and that has exactly one element for each coordinate plus the “coincidence” of it being the same at any one choice for tells us that has just the one element over each point of This proves that both and are reducible in an informational sense to triples of dyadic relations, that is, they are dyadically reducible.

Irreducibly Triadic Relations

Most likely, any triadic relation imposed on arbitrary domains could find use as a sign relation, provided it embodies any constraint at all, in other words, so long as it forms a proper subset of its total space, a relationship symbolized by writing However, triadic relations of this sort are not guaranteed to form the most natural examples of sign relations.

In order to show what an irreducibly triadic relation looks like, this Section presents a pair of triadic relations that have the same dyadic projections, and thus cannot be distinguished from each other on this basis alone. As it happens, these examples of triadic relations can be discussed independently of sign relational concerns, but structures of their general ilk are frequently found arising in signal-theoretic applications, and they are undoubtedly closely associated with problems of reliable coding and communication.

Tables 74.1 and 75.1 show a pair of irreducibly triadic relations and respectively. Tables 74.2 to 74.4 and Tables 75.2 to 75.4 show the dyadic relations comprising and respectively.

The relations are defined by the following equations, with algebraic operations taking place as in that is, with

  1. The triple in belongs to if and only if Thus, is the set of even-parity bit vectors, with
  2. The triple in belongs to if and only if Thus, is the set of odd-parity bit vectors, with

The corresponding projections of and are identical. In fact, all six projections, taken at the level of logical abstraction, constitute precisely the same dyadic relation, isomorphic to the whole of and expressed by the universal constant proposition In summary:

Thus, and are both examples of irreducibly triadic relations.

Propositional Types

This Section describes a formal system of type expressions that are analogous to formulas of propositional logic and discusses their use as a calculus of predicates for classifying, analyzing, and drawing typical inferences about -place relations, in particular, for reasoning about the results of operations on relations and about the properties of their transformations and combinations.

Definition. Given a cartesian product an ordered pair has the type written if and only if and Notice that an ordered pair may have many types.

Definition. A relation has type written if and only if every has type that is, if and only if for some and

Notation. Parentheses in the Courier or Teletype font, are used to indicate the negations of propositions and the complements of sets. When a -place relation is initially given relative to the domains and a set is mentioned as a subset of one of them, say then the relevant complement of in such a context is the one taken relative to Thus we have the following equivalents.

In case of ambiguities that are not resolved by context, indices may be used as follows.

In any case, the intended term can always be written out in full, as


Consider a relation of the following type.

[The following piece occurs in § 6.35.]

The set of triples of dyadic relations, with pairwise cartesian products chosen in a pre-arranged order from a triple of three sets is called the dyadic explosion of This object is denoted read as the explosion of by twos, or more simply as and defined as follows:

This domain is defined well enough to serve the immediate purposes of this section, but later it will become necessary to examine its construction more closely.

[Maybe the following piece belongs there, too.]

Just to provide a hint of what's at stake, consider the following suggestive identity:

What sense would have to be found for the sums on the right in order to interpret this equation as a set theoretic isomorphism? Answering this question requires the concept of a co-product, roughly speaking, a “disjointed union” of sets. By the time this discussion has detailed the forms of indexing necessary to maintain these constructions, it should have become patently obvious that the forms of analysis and synthesis that are called on to achieve the putative reductions to and reconstructions from dyadic relations in actual fact never really leave the realm of genuinely triadic relations, but merely reshuffle its contents in various convenient fashions.

Considering the Source

There are several ways to contemplate the supplementation of signs, the sorts of augmentation that are crucial to meaning in the case of indices. Some approaches are analytic, in the sense that they regard signs as derivative compounds and try to break up the unitary concept of an individual sign into a congeries of seemingly more real, more actual, or more determinate sign instances. Other approaches are synthetic, in the sense that they accept a given collection of signs at face value and try to reconstruct more objective realities through the formation of abstract categories on this basis.

Attributed Signs

One type of analytic method takes it as a maxim for the logic of context that “Every sign or text is indexed by the context in which it occurs”. This means that all signs, including indices, are themselves indexed, though initially only tacitly, by the objective situation, the syntactic context, and the actual interpreter that makes use of them.

To begin formalizing this brand of supplementation, it is necessary to mark salient aspects of the situational, contextual, and inclusively interpretive features of sign usage that were previously held tacit. In effect, signs once regarded as primitive objects need to be newly analyzed as categorical abstractions that cover multitudes of existential sign instances or signs in use.

One way to develop these dimensions of the and example is to articulate the interpretive parameters of signs by means of subscripts or superscripts attached to the signs or their quotations, in this way forming a corresponding set of situated signs or attributed remarks.

The attribution of signs to their interpreters preserves the original object domain but produces an expanded syntactic domain, a corresponding set of attributed signs. In our and example this gives the following domains.

Table 76 displays the results of indexing every sign of the and example with a superscript indicating its source or exponent, namely, the interpreter who actively communicates or transmits the sign. The operation of attribution produces two new sign relations, but it turns out that both sign relations have the same form and content, so a single Table will do. The new sign relation generated by this operation will be denoted and called the attributed sign relation for the and example.

Thus informed, the semiotic equivalence relation for interpreter yields the following semiotic equations.


In comparison, the semiotic equivalence relation for interpreter yields the following semiotic equations.


Consequently, the semiotic equivalence relations for and both induce the same semiotic partition on namely, the following.

By means of a simple attribution step a certain level of congruity has been reached in the community of interpretation comprised of and This new-found agreement on what is abstractly a single semiotic equivalence relation means that its equivalence classes reconstruct the structure of the object domain within the parts of the corresponding semiotic partition. This allows a measure of objectivity or inter-subjectivity to be predicated of the sign relation's representation.

An instance of using is considered to be an objective event, the kind of happening to which all suitably placed observers can point, and adverting to an occurrence of is more specific and less vague than resorting to instances of as if being issued by anonymous sources. The situated sign is a wider sign than in the sense that it takes in a broader field of view on the interpretive situation and provides more information about the context of use. As to the reception of attributed remarks, the interpreter that can recognize signs of the form is one that knows what it means to consider the source.

It is best to read the superscripts on attributed signs as accentuations and integral parts of the quotation marks, taking and as variant inflections of Thus, I can refer to the sign just as I would refer to the sign in the present informal context, without any additional marks of quotation.

Taking a cue from this usage, the ordinary quotes that I use to mark salient relationships of signs and expressions with respect to the informal context can now be regarded as quotes that I myself, operating as a casual interpreter, tacitly index. Even without knowing the complete sign relation that I have in mind, the one that I presumably use to conduct this discussion, the sign relation that represents can nevertheless be partially formalized by means of a certain functional equation, namely, the following equation between semantic functions:

By way of vocal expression, the attributed sign can be pronounced in any of the following ways.

To facilitate visual imagery, each token of the type can be pictured as a specific occasion where the sign is being used or issued by the interpreter

The construal of objects as classes of attributed signs leads to a measure of inter-subjective agreement between the interpreters and Something like this must be the goal of any system of communication, and analogous forms of congruity and gregarity are likely to be found in any system for establishing mutually intelligible responses and maintaining socially coordinated practices.

Nevertheless, the particular types of “analytic” solutions that were proposed for resolving the conflict of interpretations between and are conceptually unsatisfactory in several ways. The constructions instituted retain the quality of hypotheses, especially due to the level of speculation about fundamental objects that is required to support them. There remains something fictional and imaginary about the nature of the object instances that are posited to form the ontological infrastructure, the supposedly more determinate strata of being that are presu