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Metadata Metadata

Which Came First?
In 1931, the Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel derived a theory that dealt with the description of formal systems. He originally applied this axiom to the formal system of mathematics, but soon discovered it applied to all classes of formal systems. In essence, Gödel said that in order to completely describe a formal system, elements of the system may not be used in such a description. In other words, when writing a dictionary, one cannot use the word monkey in the definition of the word monkey. Without such a restriction, a hopeless "which came first? Chicken or egg?" syndrome quickly ensues.

If the word monkey represents a formal system, then the dictionary definition for monkey becomes the description of that system. Such a definition is called metadata, and Gödel's proofs demand it remain separate from the system it attempts to describe.

In MUDzilla, metadata is represented by a collection of objects called the MUDzilla Class Library (MCL) These objects describe the characteristics of all objects within the MUDzilla object model. The separation of the metadata from the formal system it describes is enforced through the use of two separate key systems for identifying objects within the model. Metadata objects, which are managed by the MUDzilla Object Profiler, are identified by their TObject.ClassName property. All other objects are identified by their object keys, expressed by the TIdentifier.ObjectKey property.

It should be noted in the formal system called evolution, the "chicken or egg" question becomes soluble using this notion of metadata. One day, the immediate evolutionary precursor to a chicken laid an egg that contained a chicken. The egg came first, and the new chicken's DNA represents the chicken's metadata.

For more information on Kurt Gödel, see http://www.clarku.edu/~hmarek/html/godel.htm.

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