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Re: [ontolog-forum] Context, at last!

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: Chris Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 17:39:58 -0500
Message-id: <20050620223958.GA44275@xxxxxxxx>
On Mon, Jun 20, 2005 at 03:36:11PM +0200, Peter F Brown wrote:
> I've followed this thread with interest. As a non-tech person, and not
> wishing to be seduced by the "dark side of the force" (=AI), I have
> been very much impressed by the work of Keith Devlin (see in
> particular his "Logic and Information") and his concept of "infons": I
> don't think that his approach needs much else in order to address all
> of the issues of situation, time/space location, context, etc. that
> different people have posted about.    (01)

Devlin's work is very nice, though I think it is just a bit too informal
and intuitive for us to get a handle on exactly how to make use of it
for anything more than conceptual clarification (which is in itself very
important).  There is, in particular, not enough in the book in the way
of formal model theory and formal reasoning -- though that was
admittedly not his purpose in that book.  I believe his intention was to
write a formal follow-on, but that project seems to have fallen by the
wayside -- he's had a lot of success with his more popular books on
mathematics, and that seems to be where his focus is these days (in
addition to directing the Center for the Study of Language and
Information at Stanford).  Also, he might well think that the follow-on
work has been done -- notably, a more formal situation theoretic
approach can be found in Barwise and Seligman's Information Flow: The
Logic of Distributed Systems.  (Barwise was one of the two originators
of situation theory, and was also one of the best logicians of the
latter half of the 20th century; his premature death was a great loss.)
There is also a nice, recent paper on the formal foundations of
situation theory by Larry Moss and someone else -- but I can't put my
finger on it at the moment.    (02)

I haven't seen much practical research issue from situation theory and
its offshoots, although it is admittedly still a recent development.
One reason for this is that it is by no means clear that the more
familiar, and rather simpler, framework of traditional first-order logic
has exhausted its usefulness as a basis for ontology development and
integration.  Indeed, I think it is pretty clear that it has not.    (03)

Chris Menzel    (04)

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