John F. Sowa
John Florian Sowa is the computer scientist
Computer scientist
A computer scientist is a scientist who has acquired knowledge of computer science, the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their application in computer systems....

 who invented conceptual graph
Conceptual graph
Conceptual graphs are a formalism for knowledge representation. In the first published paper on CGs, John F. Sowa used them to represent the conceptual schemas used in database systems...

s, a graphic notation for logic and natural language, based on the structures in semantic network
Semantic network
A semantic network is a network which represents semantic relations among concepts. This is often used as a form of knowledge representation. It is a directed or undirected graph consisting of vertices, which represent concepts, and edges.- History :...

s and on the existential graph
Existential graph
An existential graph is a type of diagrammatic or visual notation for logical expressions, proposed by Charles Sanders Peirce, who wrote on graphical logic as early as 1882, and continued to develop the method until his death in 1914.-The graphs:...

s of Charles S. Peirce. He is currently developing high-level "ontologies
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

" for artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 and automated natural language understanding
Natural language understanding
Natural language understanding is a subtopic of natural language processing in artificial intelligence that deals with machine reading comprehension....

. International conferences on conceptual graphs have been held for over a decade since before 1992. Sowa combines ideas from numerous disciplines and eras modern and ancient, for example, applying ideas from Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, the medieval Scholastics to Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education...

 and including database schema
Logical schema
A Logical Schema is a data model of a specific problem domain expressed in terms of a particular data management technology. Without being specific to a particular database management product, it is in terms of either relational tables and columns, object-oriented classes, or XML tags...

 theory, and incorporating the model of analogy of Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah in his works.

He spent most of his professional career at IBM and is
a cofounder of VivoMind Intelligence, Inc.

In 1991, Sowa first stated his Law of Standards: "Whenever a major organization develops a new system as an official standard for X, the primary result is the widespread adoption of some simpler system as a de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 standard for X." Like Gall's law
Gall's law
Gall's Law is a rule of thumb from John Gall's Systemantics: How Systems Really Work and How They Fail:Systemantics is a commentary on systems theory and general semantics publications by such thinkers as Ludwig von Bertalanffy and Alfred Korzybski.Although dubbed Gall's Law...

, The Law of Standards is essentially an argument in favour of underspecification. Examples include:
  • The introduction of PL/I
    PL/I is a procedural, imperative computer programming language designed for scientific, engineering, business and systems programming applications...

     resulting in COBOL
    COBOL is one of the oldest programming languages. Its name is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments....

     and FORTRAN
    Fortran is a general-purpose, procedural, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing...

     becoming the de facto standards for scientific and business programming
  • The introduction of Algol-68 resulting in Pascal
    Pascal (programming language)
    Pascal is an influential imperative and procedural programming language, designed in 1968/9 and published in 1970 by Niklaus Wirth as a small and efficient language intended to encourage good programming practices using structured programming and data structuring.A derivative known as Object Pascal...

     becoming the de facto standard for academic programming
  • The introduction of the Ada language
    Ada (programming language)
    Ada is a structured, statically typed, imperative, wide-spectrum, and object-oriented high-level computer programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages...

     resulting in C
    C (programming language)
    C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

     becoming the de facto standard for DoD
    United States Department of Defense
    The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

  • The introduction of OS/2
    OS/2 is a computer operating system, initially created by Microsoft and IBM, then later developed by IBM exclusively. The name stands for "Operating System/2," because it was introduced as part of the same generation change release as IBM's "Personal System/2 " line of second-generation personal...

     resulting in Windows
    Microsoft Windows
    Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

     becoming the de facto standard for desktop OS
  • The introduction of X.400
    X.400 is a suite of ITU-T Recommendations that define standards for Data Communication Networks for Message Handling Systems — more commonly known as "email"....

     resulting in SMTP becoming the de facto standard for electronic mail
  • The introduction of X.500
    X.500 is a series of computer networking standards covering electronic directory services. The X.500 series was developed by ITU-T, formerly known as CCITT, and first approved in 1988. The directory services were developed in order to support the requirements of X.400 electronic mail exchange and...

     resulting in LDAP becoming the de facto standard for directory services
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