French IR language 

for SYNTagmatic Organization Language

Semiotics-inspired language for the organization and retrieval of complex documents

Jean-Claude Gardin CNRS 1960

Gardin was an archaeologist at the Archeological Documentation Centre at CNRS and developed SYNTOL from the need to catalogue the Middle East bronzes collection. In 1960 he got funding support from Euratom to turn it into a generalised language for automated indexing.

Gardin based it on Saussure?s semiotics and distinguished between the semantic (paradigmatic) mode and the syntactic (syntagmatic, hence the name) mode of expression. It is a metalanguage for describing the relation between terms, rather than enumerating the terms themselves. ?It consists of a codified linguistic framework being used to represent the data, and of a whole of logical operations making it possible to store descriptions of documents and to find them.? (PBL 2003)

?SYNTOL specifies moreover two distinct groups of facets: Source and Sets of themes. In Source, the headings refer to physical attributes as the form, the language and the date; the Thematic facet includes the Beings (people or groups), the Topic (category of phenomena such as the relationship or the religion), Time (evokes events), Space (place where appear the people or the events) and the Mode (the general manner to tackle the subject: history, critical, etc). This terminology emphasizes the intention which inspired the analysis, as in the fundamental categories of Ranganathan, and this system influenced most of later research, in particular for the indexing of the archaeological objects.? (PBL 2003)

Related languages
SYNTOL => SMART   Influence

  • Gardin, J. C. and Levy, F. "Le SYNTOL (SYNtagmatic Organization Language)" view details Abstract: SYNTOL is a linguistic system for information storage and retrieval. It implies the use of a hierarchically organized vocabulary but does not impose any particular one. Moreover, recorded sentences themselves provide syntagmatic associations, which the machine can use in addition to the paradigmatic relations found in the vocabulary, when processing a given question.

    These sentences are chains of syntagms, each composed of two terms connected by an oriented relation, Rn (n =. 4). The meaning of each relation can be specified, when necessary, by operators, attached to one of the poles of a syntagm. Finally, in order to achieve a univocal syntactical reduction, each word in the vocabulary is ascribed to one of four quasi-grammatical categories, which command permissible constructions.

    The analysis of a document, therefore, contains two kinds of term: isolated words, belonging to the normalized vocabulary, and syntagms, expressing logical relationships between such words. Variations in the analysis are defined, ranging from a mere enumeration of key-words to the construction of full sentences, in order to test their respective efficiency for information retrieval.

    Rules are given for modulations, i.e. controlled changes in the lexical or syntactical features of a given question, in order to reduce or increase the range of expected answers.

          in Popplewell, Cicely M. (Ed.) Information Processing 62, Proceedings of the 2nd IFIP Congress, Munich, Aug. 1962. North Holland Publ. Co., 1963. view details
  • Eisner, E. review of Gardin 1962 view details Abstract: Since the meaning of text is dependent on structure as well as on word content, information retrieval schemes should allow incorporation of structural relations as well as key words. SYNTOL is such a scheme. For any given specialty, a list of key words is first constructed and each then classified by the three successive refinements indicated, as: predicate, entity, state, (action). Possible relationships between key words are classified by successive refinement into formal, ordered, associated, associated with predicate. The text to be encoded is represented by a diagram with key words as nodes and relationships as directed arrows between the appropriate nodes. By numbering the nodes, an unambiguous scheme for writing such a diagram is obtained. Other ambiguity resolvents are used as needed.

    A body of encoded text can be questioned if the question is similarly encoded.

    "Variations," i.e., various incomplete encodings of diagram of the original text, and "modulations," i.e., systematic formal alterations, substitutions or expansions of the diagram of the question, are then possible. An experiment with a collection of about 5,000 texts in the terminologically diverse behavioural sciences is currently underway, using an IBM 7090 to see whether or not the above scheme is effective. The vagueness of the discussion suggests that it is not very far along.

          in ACM Computing Reviews 4(01) January-February, 1963 view details
  • Cros, N. C., Gardin, J. C., and Levy, F. "L'Automatisation des recherches documentaries--Un module general "Le Syntol."" Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1964. view details
          in ACM Computing Reviews 4(01) January-February, 1963 view details
  • Gardin, J. C. Syntol. In Artandi, Susan (Ed.), Systems for the Intellectual Organization of Information, vol. 2. Rutgers U. Press, New Brunswick, N.J., 1965. view details
          in ACM Computing Reviews 4(01) January-February, 1963 view details
  • Fangmeyer,Hermann and Gerhard Lustig: "The EURATOM automatic indexing project" view details
          in ACM Computing Reviews 4(01) January-February, 1963 view details
  • Stock, Karl F. "A listing of some programming languages and their users" in RZ-Informationen. Graz: Rechenzentrum Graz 1971 256 view details Abstract: 321 Programmiersprachen mit Angabe der Computer-Hersteller, auf deren Anlagen die entsprechenden Sprachen verwendet werden kennen. Register der 74 Computer-Firmen; Reihenfolge der Programmiersprachen nach der Anzahl der Herstellerfirmen, auf deren Anlagen die Sprache implementiert ist; Reihenfolge der Herstellerfirmen nach der Anzahl der verwendeten Programmiersprachen.

    [321 programming languages with indication of the computer manufacturers, on whose machinery the appropriate languages are used to know.  Register of the 74 computer companies;  Sequence of the programming languages after the number of manufacturing firms, on whose plants the language is implemented;  Sequence of the manufacturing firms after the number of used programming languages.]
          in ACM Computing Reviews 4(01) January-February, 1963 view details
  • Coates, E.J., 'Some properties of relationships in the structure of indexing languages' view details
          in Journal of Documentation, 29, 1973 view details
  • Stock, Marylene and Stock, Karl F. "Bibliography of Programming Languages: Books, User Manuals and Articles from PLANKALKUL to PL/I" Verlag Dokumentation, Pullach/Munchen 1973 599 view details Abstract: PREFACE  AND  INTRODUCTION
    The exact number of all the programming languages still in use, and those which are no longer used, is unknown. Zemanek calls the abundance of programming languages and their many dialects a "language Babel". When a new programming language is developed, only its name is known at first and it takes a while before publications about it appear. For some languages, the only relevant literature stays inside the individual companies; some are reported on in papers and magazines; and only a few, such as ALGOL, BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, and PL/1, become known to a wider public through various text- and handbooks. The situation surrounding the application of these languages in many computer centers is a similar one.

    There are differing opinions on the concept "programming languages". What is called a programming language by some may be termed a program, a processor, or a generator by others. Since there are no sharp borderlines in the field of programming languages, works were considered here which deal with machine languages, assemblers, autocoders, syntax and compilers, processors and generators, as well as with general higher programming languages.

    The bibliography contains some 2,700 titles of books, magazines and essays for around 300 programming languages. However, as shown by the "Overview of Existing Programming Languages", there are more than 300 such languages. The "Overview" lists a total of 676 programming languages, but this is certainly incomplete. One author ' has already announced the "next 700 programming languages"; it is to be hoped the many users may be spared such a great variety for reasons of compatibility. The graphic representations (illustrations 1 & 2) show the development and proportion of the most widely-used programming languages, as measured by the number of publications listed here and by the number of computer manufacturers and software firms who have implemented the language in question. The illustrations show FORTRAN to be in the lead at the present time. PL/1 is advancing rapidly, although PL/1 compilers are not yet seen very often outside of IBM.

    Some experts believe PL/1 will replace even the widely-used languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL, and ALGOL.4) If this does occur, it will surely take some time - as shown by the chronological diagram (illustration 2) .

    It would be desirable from the user's point of view to reduce this language confusion down to the most advantageous languages. Those languages still maintained should incorporate the special facets and advantages of the otherwise superfluous languages. Obviously such demands are not in the interests of computer production firms, especially when one considers that a FORTRAN program can be executed on nearly all third-generation computers.

    The titles in this bibliography are organized alphabetically according to programming language, and within a language chronologically and again alphabetically within a given year. Preceding the first programming language in the alphabet, literature is listed on several languages, as are general papers on programming languages and on the theory of formal languages (AAA).
    As far as possible, the most of titles are based on autopsy. However, the bibliographical description of sone titles will not satisfy bibliography-documentation demands, since they are based on inaccurate information in various sources. Translation titles whose original titles could not be found through bibliographical research were not included. ' In view of the fact that nany libraries do not have the quoted papers, all magazine essays should have been listed with the volume, the year, issue number and the complete number of pages (e.g. pp. 721-783), so that interlibrary loans could take place with fast reader service. Unfortunately, these data were not always found.

    It is hoped that this bibliography will help the electronic data processing expert, and those who wish to select the appropriate programming language from the many available, to find a way through the language Babel.

    We wish to offer special thanks to Mr. Klaus G. Saur and the staff of Verlag Dokumentation for their publishing work.

    Graz / Austria, May, 1973
          in Journal of Documentation, 29, 1973 view details
  • Green, R. "Syntagmatic relationships in index languages: A reassessment" view details
          in Library Quarterly, 65(4) 1995 view details
  • Christopher Soo-Guan Khoo "The Use of Relation Matching in Information Retrieval" LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal 7(2) September 1997 view details Abstract: Most information retrieval systems use keyword-matching to identify documents that may be relevant to the user's query. The user's query may contain multiple concepts linked together with relations. However, keyword matching methods ignore relations that are expressed in the query. This paper discusses the use of relation matching in information retrieval – matching terms and relations between terms expressed in the query with terms and relations found in the documents. Previous studies on relation matching are surveyed, and related issues and problems are discussed. The results of research carried out as part of the author’s dissertation are reported and current research efforts are outlined. Extract: Introduction
    Two indexing systems that make explicit use of relations are Farradane's (1950, 1952 and 1967) relational classification system and the SYNTOL model (Gardin, 1965; Levy, 1967). Farradane (1967) used nine types of relations: concurrence, equivalence, distinctness, self-activity, dimensional, reaction, association, appurtenance, functional dependence. The SYNTOL project used four main types of relations that were subdivided into finer relations (Gardin, 1965):

    Coordinative (Formal)
    Consecutive (Dynamic)
    Associative (Intrinsic)
    - Active

    - Agent
    - Patient

    - Inactive

    - Qualification
    - Inclusion

    - Circumstantial

    - Location
    - Means
    - Goal
    - Sign

    A discussion of the theoretical issues related to the use of syntagmatic relations in indexing languages can be found in Green (1995),

          in Library Quarterly, 65(4) 1995 view details