On Lean Messaging with Unfolding and Unwrapping for Electronic Commerce

Steven O. Kimbrough and Yao-Hua Tan
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 5, Number 1, Fall 2000, pp. 83.

Abstract: EDI (electronic data interchange) messages are notoriously lean and difficult (or impossible) to interpret without additional information. The authors acknowledge the many criticisms of the EDI protocols, but argue that there is something basically correct, even inevitable, in the leanness of EDI messages. They present a framework that describes how EDI messages are interpreted, and indeed must be interpreted. “Unwrapping” and “unfolding” of messages are the central elements. These concepts are discussed in detail, and the article demonstrates how to exploit them in formalizations for electronic commerce. In particular, it shows how Kimbrough’s lean-event semantics for speech acts, and Tan and Thoen’s theory of directed obligation can be fit naturally and fruitfully into this framework, and to each other. Much remains to be done, but the progress in formalization in evidence here should be generalizable.

Key Words and Phrases:Business messaging, deontic logic, electronic commerce, electronic data interchange (EDI), formal language for business communication (FLBC).