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

To: patrick@xxxxxxxxxxx
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Adam Pease <apease@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2006 10:39:19 -0700
Message-id: <>
   It's true that even a formal ontology is created by humans, and 
that the logic may not fully capture the intended meaning of the 
human.  It's also true that the results of any automated computation 
must be interpreted somehow.  The lack of sufficiency of a technique 
under all possible uses is not an argument against its necessity however.
   Such an argument therefore does not negate the benefits of being 
able to do automated computation.  A reasonable analogy might be to 
arithmetic, where although people must interpret the results with 
respect to the real world, and people can do arithmetic by hand, 
there is still great benefit in having a machine do as much automated 
computation as possible.  Such computation would not be possible 
without mathematical and computable definitions for the mathematical 
terms and symbols.
   The main point is that without a mathematical definition for the 
symbols, as is the case in a terminological ontology, one can't do 
(or more broadly, can't do the same number or degree of) automated computation.
   The fact that an approach under some broad moniker has failed in 
the past doesn't have much bearing on our present case I think.    (01)

Adam    (02)

At 10:00 AM 4/8/2006, Patrick Durusau wrote:
>Adam Pease wrote:
>>   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.
>Yes, there is a misunderstanding here.
>defining a mathematical logic between arbitrary unique symbols != 
>defining the meaning of arbitrary unique symbols
>Yes, whatever symbols are substituted, the outcomes of defined 
>operations would be the same.
>That is not the same as defining the "meaning" of a symbol mathematically.
>The "meaning" of a symbol is always determined with recourse to 
>human interpretation. How else would you explain the use of WordNet 
>references in SUMO? Of what possible relevance are WordNet entries 
>if the meaning of symbols is being defined mathematically? The 
>answer is that the "meaning" of the symbols is being defined by 
>making references to something outside of the mathematical 
>definition of relationships between the symbols.
>>   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.
>Not to put too fine a point on it but you seem to be eliding over 
>the fact that the development of SUMO was based upon human 
>interpretation and construction of the rules that can then be 
>automatically applied. It wasn't simply a matter of putting 
>mathematical rules in a box of symbols and shaking it until the 
>result suddenly appeared.
>The compliance the world bank (or any other concern) is interested 
>in is compliance with their terms, which may or may not use the same 
>rules for complaince that can be found in SUMO. Yes, logic can prove 
>a lack of contradiction but then so can careful definition of terms 
>and what is or is not considered to be a conflict.
>Note that I do consider SUMO and similar efforts to be worthwhile. 
>But, I don't think that they divorce the meaning of symbols from 
>human interpretation nor are they the best solutions for all cases. 
>As I noted earlier today, we have been down the road of universal 
>languages before and none has succeeded to date.
>Hope you are having a great day!
>>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 
>>>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!
>>>Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/
>>>Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
>>>Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ To Post: 
>>Adam Pease
>>http://www.ontologyportal.org - Free ontologies and tools
>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!
>    (03)

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

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