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. (October 2011)
The semantic gap characterizes the difference between two descriptions of an object by different linguistic representations, for instance languages or symbols. According to Hein, the semantic gap can be defined as "the difference in meaning between constructs formed within different representation systems".
computer science, the concept is relevant whenever ordinary human activities, observations, and tasks are transferred into a computational representation.
More precisely the gap means the difference between ambiguous formulation of contextual knowledge in a powerful language (e.g.
natural language) and its sound, reproducible and computational representation in a
formal language (e.g.
Semantics of an object depends on the context it is regarded within. For practical application this means any formal representation of real world tasks requires the translation of the contextual expert knowledge of an application (high-level) into the elementary and reproducible operations of a computing machine (low-level). Since natural language allows the expression of tasks which are impossible to compute in a formal language there are no means to automatize this translation in a general way. Moreover, the examination of languages within the
Chomsky hierarchy indicates that there is no formal and consequently automated way of translating from one language into another above a certain level of expressional power.