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By Michael M Gorman

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CODD: A TRIBUTE AND PERSONAL MEMOIR as a basis on which to define a query language. As I’ve already indicated, QUEL is an example of a language that’s based on the calculus. SQL, by contrast, is a mixture: It includes some elements that are calculus-based, others that are algebra-based, and still others that are neither. As the title indicates, the paper also introduced the notion of relational completeness as a basic measure of the expressive power of a database language. Essentially, a language is said to be relationally complete if it’s as powerful as the calculus.

Now, mathematical theories are certainly scientific theories, but they’re a little special, in a way. First, the observed phenomena they’re supposed to explain tend to be rather abstract— not nearly as concrete as the motion of the planets, for example. Second, the predictions they make are essentially the theorems that can be proved within the theory. Thus, those “predictions” can be falsified only if there’s something wrong with the premises, or axioms, on which the theorems are based. But even this does happen from time to time!

That’s how the Copernican system replaced epicycles1; how Einstein’s cosmology replaced Newton’s; how general relativity replaced special relativity; and so on. S. over the theory of evolution versus creationism (also known as “intelligent design”). Evolution is a scientific theory: It makes predictions, predictions that can be tested, and in principle it can be falsified (namely, if those predictions turn out to be incorrect). In particular, evolution predicts that if the environment changes, the inhabitants of that environment will probably change too.

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