Presented at Evolution 2016

Altmetric score 4.6 (top 21.2%)

Author: Nico Franz
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Research area: evolutionary_biology
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Open peer-review

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A logic approach to modeling nomenclatural change


Created on 14th June 2016

Nico Franz; Chao Zhang; Joohyung Lee;


We utilize an Answer Set Programming (ASP) approach to show that the principles of nomenclature are tractable in computational logic. To this end we design a hypothetical, 20 nomenclatural taxon use case with starting conditions that embody several overarching principles of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature; including Binomial Nomenclature, Priority, Coordination, Homonymy, Typification, and the structural requirement of Gender Agreement. The use case ending conditions are triggered by the reinterpretation of the diagnostic features of one of 12 type specimens anchoring the corresponding species-level names. Permutations of this child-to-parent reassignment action lead to 36 alternative scenarios, where each scenario requires 1-14 logically contingent nomenclatural emendations. We show that an ASP transition system approach can correctly infer the Code-mandated changes for each scenario, and visually output the ending conditions. The results provide a foundation for further developing logic-based nomenclatural change optimization and compliance verification services, which could be applied in globally coordinated nomenclatural registries. More generally, logic explorations of nomenclatural and taxonomic change scenarios provide a novel means of assessing design biases inherent in the principles of nomenclature, and thus may inform the design of future, big data-compatible identifier systems for systematic products that recognize and mitigate these constraints.

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