Abr 07

Abstraction layers in computational semiotics

Tag: Computing, Signs and ReasoningJoaquim Anguas @ 6:11 pm

Computational semiotics is often related to semiosis or semantics, but less to pragamatics.

Within the area of study I am interested in, it is relevant how computational signs construct a meaning you can derive high level facts from. So semiosis, semantics, but pragmatics as well, are involved.

In computation, facts are observed by accessing data stored in computational means. Data is stored in different ways, but it generally materializes in the form of bits as the minimum sign unit.

Common storage media are hard disk drives, optical media or RAM-like. Those media store bits in different ways: a magnetic field on the coating of a disk, “holes” on the optical layer of a resin disk or electrons into memory cells.

The equivalent of finding a cigarette butt in a crime scene would be to observe these signs directly. But we don’t use to get facts from this kind of signs.

Instead we get facts from much higher level interpretations of these signs. There are many translation and interpretation steps between these signs and what we observe. Every step involves reading and constructing signs (semiosis), extracting meaning of them within the context (semantics), and eventually deriving high level facts from them (pragmatics).

In subsequent posts I will analyze all this with more detail.