Updating COMCIFS' approach to dictionaries

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Mon Feb 20 13:48:23 GMT 2012

On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM, Herbert J. Bernstein <
yaya at bernstein-plus-sons.com> wrote:

> Perhaps one should consider an automated web tool similar to a dns
> registry that would provide
> seni-automatic dispensing of dictionary identifiers, prefixes, category
> names and tag names to
> make the avoidance of naming collisions simpler to achieve.

We are also developing/using tools in this space such as a dictionary
browser/search tool. We're making use of tools such as RDF/SPARQL endpoints
and also NoSQL databases especially faceted indexing and search which is
very powerful for this sort of thing. We use the CIF core dictionary, have
translated it into RDF and use the terms in SPARQL queries.

There is relatively little need to deploy these tools beyond the dictionary
creators and my guess is that for the next (say) five years there won't be
any performance problems. The evolving web technologies now make it easy to
create browse/display/search tools and CIF won't need to re-implement
everything from scratch.

> One related syntactic/semantic issue to consider would be to move from
> the current underscore
> separation of prefixes from category names and tag names to the use of a
> hierarchical ":" or "."
> notation to allow for dns-like arbitrary nesting of naming
> responsibilities.
> +1
Essential in the medium future. CIF names have to be machine parsable
without lookup

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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