Preserving Information About Linearization in Document Graphs

  1. 1. Lars Gunnarsønn Johnsen

    University of Bergen

  2. 2. Claus Huitfeldt

    University of Bergen

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Many operations are more conveniently performed on a
graph representation than on a linear representation of
a marked up document, and vice versa. Therefore, it is
sometimes important to ensure that no relevant aspect of the
information contained in a document represented in one of these
forms is lost or distorted when the document is converted to
the other form.
Conventional methods for converting between XML documents
and their graph representations [W3C 2000] are typically seen
to preserve such information; standards and methods have been
established for ensuring what is in most contexts considered
full preservation of all relevant aspects of the linearization
[W3C 2001].
However, what is considered relevant may of course vary,
depending on context of use. It would probably be hard to find
serious arguments to the effect that literally all aspects of the
linear representation of a document are relevant for any
generally interesting use. Typically, conventional conversion
methods are not guaranteed to preserve e.g. attribute order,
declaration order, and insignificant whitespace. But it is not
hard to find complaints about, for example, lack of preservation
of attribute order in certain applications.
Our focus in this paper is on methods for the preservation of
element serialization order in marked up documents which
make use of mechanisms for representing non- hierarchic
complex structures such as overlapping, discontinuous and
virtual elements. (For convenience, we use the term "complex
structures" to refer to such phenomena.) We do not wish to
claim that preservation of element order is always or even
generally relevant, our aim is limited to providing a method for
such preservation in cases where it is considered relevant.
The customary graph representation of XML is in the form of
an "XML tree", a restricted kind of directed acyclic graph
(DAG). More specifically, XML trees are DAGs with single
parenthood and total ordering on leaf nodes. For certain purposes, however, a different kind of graph representation has
been proposed, the so-called Goddag [Sperberg-McQueen and
Huitfeldt 2000]: Roughly, Goddags are like XML trees except
that they allow multiple parenthood and do not require a total
ordering on leaf nodes; leaf nodes may be ordered only relative
to their immediate parents. (Thus, XML trees constitute a subset
of Goddags.)
For certain purposes this data structure provides a more
convenient representation of complex structures than XML
trees. Documents using different XML mechanisms for
representing such structures in linear form (e.g. milestones,
fragmentation, virtual elements etc. [Barnard 1995,
Sperberg-McQueen and Huitfeldt 1999]) can be mapped on to
Goddags, though not without knowledge of application-specific
semantics of the markup vocabulary. The experimental markup
system TexMecs [Sperberg-McQueen and Huitfeldt 2001]
offers mechanisms for the representation of complex structures
which can be mapped on to Goddags independently of such
However, in both cases, i.e. whether the graph is built from
XML or TexMecs, reserialization from the graph is not in
general guaranteed possible without changes to the structure
and order of elements in the original linearization. For example,
if an XML document has used milestones or fragmentation of
elements to represent overlapping elements it is possible to
build a Goddag representing the non-hierarchic structure of the
document. But when reserializing back to XML, the Goddag
does not contain any information about which elements to
represent as milestones or as fragmented elements.
Similarly with TexMecs: Some element structures can be
represented by alternative serialization constructs, and the
Goddag as currently defined does not preserve information
about the choice of construct in each particular case. In
TexMecs the problem is made more severe by the fact that the
graph does not, in the case of e.g. virtual or discontinuous
elements, preserve complete information about the serial orderof
elements in the original input.
Consider the following example, marked up according to
TexMECS, and illustrating how a discontinuous constituent
element <q> may be represented.
(1) <s|<q|Why|-q>, he said,<+q| me?|q>|s>
In TEI-based XML, the example could e.g. be marked up as:
(1’) <s><q part="I">Why<q/>, he said,<q
part="F"> me?</q></s>
The resulting Goddag, whether based on the XML or the
TexMecs input, would normally look like this:1
Since the second leaf node (containing the string ", he said,")
does not share any parent with either of the two other leaf nodes,
it is not ordered with respect to these. Therefore, the
linearization in (1) is equivalent to the following two
linearizations, both placing the second leaf node in a position
relative to the other two that it does not have in (1):
(3) <s|<q|Why me?|q>, he said,|s>
(4) <s|, he said,<q|Why me?|q>|s>
Thus, the Goddag in (2) would be the same whether built from
(1), (3) or (4). Similarly, a choice whether to linearize (2) in
the form of (1), (3) or (4) will either have to be arbitrary, or
based on purely practical considerations.
A solution to the linearization problem lies, we propose, in
considering the Goddag used for representing marked up text
as a path ordered directed acyclic graph; a Podagra. Building
a Podagra from (1), we get a graph consisting of three paths,
in the order indicated as follows:2
1. s → q → "Why"
2. s → ", he said,"
3. s → q → " me?"
Building a Podagra from (3), however, produces the following
path order:
1. s → q → "Why me?"
2. s → ", he said,"
whereas from (4) we get the following paths:
1. s → ", he said," 2. s → q → "Why me?"
The Podagras (5), (6) and (7) all correspond to the Goddag (2),
but each maps uniquely to the linearizations (1), (3) and (4),
In the full paper, we will present an algorithm yielding Podagras
from TexMECS documents containing different linearizations
also of overlapping and virtual elements. We intend to show
how path ordered Goddags can faithfully restore the original
linearization of such documents.
Since TexMECS is a purely experimental markup language,
these results may be said to have limited practical relevance.
However, a number of projects currently build Goddags from
XML-encoded documents (by the use of application-specific
semantics). Therefore, we also hope to indicate how the
proposed method may used for preservation of the original
linearization of XML documents using well-known methods
for representation of overlapping, discontinuous and virtual
1. For simplification, we are consciously ignoring certain unresolved
issues concerning the representation of discontinuous elements in
Goddags [Huitfeldt and Sperberg-McQueen 2006].
2. The simplicity of the example allows us to indicate nodes by their
generic identifiers. I.e. the three occurrences of "s" all indicate the
single node labelled s, and the two occurrences of "q" indicate the
single node labelled "q".
Barnard, David, Lou Burnard, Jean-Pierre Gaspart, , C. Michael
Sperberg-McQueen, and Giovanni Battista Varile. "Hierarchical
Encoding of Text: Technical Problems and SGML Solutions."
The Text Encoding Initiative: Background and Contents. Ed.
Nancy Ide and Jean Véronis. 1995. 211-231.
Huitfeldt, Claus, and C. M. Sperberg-McQueen. "Representation
and Processing of Goddag Structures: Implementation Strategies
and Progress Report." Proceedings of Extreme Markup
Languages 2006. 2006. <http://www.idealliance.o
Sperberg-McQueen, C. M., and Claus Huitfeldt. "Concurrent
Document Hierarchies in MECS and SGML." Literary &
Linguistic Computing 14.1 (1999): 29-42.
Sperberg-McQueen, C. M., and Claus Huitfeldt. "TexMECS:
An Experimental Markup Meta-language for Complex
Documents." 2001. <http://decentius.aksis.uib.
Sperberg-McQueen, C. M., and Claus Huitfeldt. "GODDAG:
A Data Structure for Overlapping Hierarchies." DDEP-PODDP
2000. Ed. P. King and E. V. Munson. Lecture Notes in
Computer Science 2023. Berlin: Springer, 2004. 139-160.
W3C. Document Object Model (DOM) Level 1 Specification.
The World Wide Web Consortium, 2000. <http://www.w>W3C Recommendation,
September 2000
W3C. Ed. J. Boyer. Canonical XML. 2001. W3C
Recommendation, March 2001

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2007

Hosted at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, United States

June 2, 2007 - June 8, 2007

106 works by 213 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (2)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None