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Re: language vs. ontology was Re: [ontolog-forum] April 20 session on t

To: patrick@xxxxxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Adam Pease <apease@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2006 08:16:14 -0700
Message-id: <>
   I think there's a misunderstanding here.  It's not just a question 
of precision in the conventional sense.  Of course we try to make our 
documents and laws precise.  But the meaning of those texts is 
determined with recourse to human interpretation.  In a formal 
ontology like SUMO, or DOLCE, one could replace all the term names 
with arbitrary unique symbols, and an automated deductive system, 
following the rules of mathematical logic (in our case, first order 
logic) could reach all the same conclusions as it could if those 
intelligible labels were present.  The meaning of the symbols is 
defined mathematically, and no human interpretation is required to 
give them meaning.
   That's relevant because it enables one to do things like prove the 
absence of contradictions in the use of these terms with an automated 
system.  In contrast, without such a property, humans have to 
determine whether usage of terminological or linguistic based 
standards are compliant.  Standards compliance is something I would 
think would be relevant to the world bank.    (01)

Adam    (02)

At 03:08 AM 4/8/2006, Patrick Durusau wrote:
>Adam Pease wrote:
>>   For what it's worth, I think there is a common problem surfacing 
>> here, that Bill has tried to point out.  Language and ontology are 
>> different.  Human language (and any given word in a human 
>> language) is ambiguous and highly contextual.  Terms in an 
>> ontology are not ambiguous (or at least, shouldn't be if they are 
>> properly and formally defined).
>>   Typically, this has been a problem, because computational 
>> linguists have often used linguistic elements as pseudo-logical 
>> terms in semantic forms.  Ontology builders often use linguistic 
>> elements as proxies for doing a full semantic definition, leaving 
>> much of the interpretation embedded in the conventional meaning of 
>> the linguistic-based term.
>>   The approach we've taken in SUMO is to make this distinction 
>> explicit, and to address language and ontology in separate but 
>> related products.  SUMO is the formal ontology with terms defined 
>> unambiguously in first order logic.  Those terms are related 
>> through semi-formal links to the word senses in Princeton's WordNet.
>Language and ontology are different???
>Hmmm, well the foundational paper for SUMO states:
>"In order to enable continued progress in ecommerce and software 
>integration, we must give
>computers a common language with a richness that more closely 
>approaches that of human
>language." http://home.earthlink.net/~adampease/professional/FOIS.pdf
>Granted a great deal of effort has gone into making SUMO precise, 
>but the same could be done for any language. It is interesting but 
>not persuasive that its terms have been "defined unambigouously in 
>first order logic." And that is relevant for what reason? Perhaps 
>first order logic is not relevant to all the problems faced by the 
>World Bank. Recall that the current fascination with first order 
>logic is a repeat of a debate that has ebbed and flowed for many 
>years. Justice Holmes wrote in the 1890's that the life of the law 
>had been experience and not logic. 
>In any event, there is no reason to disenfranchise the World Bank 
>from representing their language/ontology in favor of using SUMO. 
>There have been any number of attempts to produce universal 
>languages, LogLang is one of the more recent ones.
>There are standards that seek to empower users to define their own 
>languages/ontologies and yet remain mappable to others. See, for 
>example the Topic Maps Reference Model CD draft at: 
>Hope you are having a great day!
>Patrick Durusau
>Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
>Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
>Member, Text Encoding Initiative Board of Directors, 2003-2005
>Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!
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>mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (03)

Adam Pease
http://www.ontologyportal.org - Free ontologies and tools    (04)

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