Semiotics, Database Semantics & Concepts, Summer 2005

From 24 June to 24 July 2005, Ryoko and I travelled to Austria and Germany, for three meetings and a little tourism. After a frustrating false start on 22 June, we left on the 24th, arrived in Berlin the 25th (SAN to CVG to JFK to TXL), and then took a train to Frankfurt an der Oder, a small East German town right at the border with Poland, for the Stil und Computer section of the annual Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Semiotik Kongress; we were met and kindly assisted by Alexander Mehler. Joseph's invited address, Style as a Choice of Blending Principles (based on joint work with Fox Harrell) seemed to go down well, with a downpour exactly as he began to read Fox's computer generated poem, "The Girl with Skin of Haints and Seriphs."

On the 27th, we returned to Berlin and took a pleasant Air Berlin flight to Vienna, where Georg Gottlob had reserved a flat for us, for a symposium on database semantics in his Database and AI Group on the 29th. Joseph gave a talk "Semantics of Schemas and Schema Morphisms" based on the revised and expanded version of his paper Data, Schema, Ontology, and Logic Integration, to appear in a book of selected papers from the Workshop on Combinations of Logic (CombLog'04), 28-30 July 2004, Lisbon, Portugal. Prof. Gottlob gave a very interesting talk on cores of relational database schema mappings.

Much of the time in Vienna was spent working on the database semantics paper, especially the notion of schema morphism for schemas over an arbitrary species, but we also visited museums and concert halls; works of Secession members Schiele and Kokoshka, and large exhibitions of Magritte and Baldessari, were especially memorable, and a Lehar operatta was amusing. In addition, we met with Franz Nahrada, Volkmar Klien, Yuka Gulda, Alex Leitsch, and Ina Wagner, who took us to a lovely hueriger (traditional Vienna country wine garden); we also enjoyed a long phone conversation with Andrius Kulikauskas, who set up the visit with Nahrada, who in turn set up the visit with Gulda, a fine pianist, improviser, and composer, and wife of the (now deceased) great Viennese pianist Friedrich Gulda. We also enjoyed the cafes of Vienna, especially the delightful Cafe Sperl, where Ryoko often performed, and where Secession met and Lehar composed.

On 16 July, we flew back to Berlin, where we stayed overnight at the Intercity Hotel at the Ost Bahnhoff, and next day took a train to Kassel, for ICCS '05 (13th International Conference on Conceptual Structures), where Joseph gave an invited lecture on the 19th, What is a Concept?, which seemed to generate both interest and controversy; probably it is both too interdisciplinary and too technical. On the 22nd, Ryoko did a short a capella show, featuring our cantata Zero Connected Empty, on the history of the philosophy of mathematics (a tour de force to do without piano), and a drinking song we wrote just before the show, on the theme of conceptual structures. There were many interesting discussions and papers here, and we also enjoyed Kassel, which is of medium size but very friendly; it is also the home of the Grimm brothers, famous for their transcriptions of traditional folk tales and for their role in founding German linguistics; we visited the small but nice Grimm Brothers Museum dedicated to their work. Once every five years, it is also home of , one of two great Eruopean art shows.

On the 23rd, we took a train back to Berlin, where we stayed at the once very elegant Hotel Hardenberg, right between the rundown Zoo Bahnhof area and the upscale Kurfurstendamm area, very near the bombed out Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The next day we took the long and tiring trip (TXL to JFK to ATL to SAN) home, arriving late night.

Some photos from the trip.
A sequence of short poems evoking feeling-tones of various events & places on the trip, haibun style.
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Last modified: Tue Aug 23 18:46:07 PDT 2005