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Re: [ontolog-forum] Avoiding Hobson's Choice In Choosing An ntology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Patrick Durusau <patrick@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 11:19:55 -0400
Message-id: <4453841B.5030506@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Matthew,    (01)

West, Matthew R SIPC-DFD/321 wrote:    (02)

>Dear Colleagues,
>I was unfortunately not able to attend this talk, but Peter asked
>me to comment on it. So here goes.
Sorry you missed it.    (03)

I will respond to your comments on FOL in this post and cover the others 
after I have refreshed my memory on the STEP standard.    (04)

<snip>    (05)

>I don't follow the worked example they have from the slides, but
>it looks a little simplistic to me. Also, to form aribtrary mappings
>my experience is you need FOL, and Topic Maps falls short of this,
>so I would expect some limitations to what could be mapped.
Actually Subject Maps do NOT fall short on the use of FOL for mapping. 
As I said in the slides and in the presentation, you are free to use 
*any* method for merging that you choose to specify.    (06)

FOL is only one choice among many and your mileage will vary depending 
on which one you choose.    (07)

What the Subject Maps standard does not do is make an a priori choice of 
FOL for all users.    (08)

First, FOL is only one form of logic and depending upon your 
requirements, it may be a good choice. However, there are a variety of 
non-FOL logics that have been and are being developed for any number of 
purposes.    (09)

Second, for those of us old enough to remember it, there was a big push 
in the 1970's to apply FOL to legal reasoning. While the work was useful 
in some limited cases, a generalized reasoning solution was never 
developed using FOL. That effort failed because it was not possible to 
"know" the meaning of the words that appeared in a text, or in subject 
map terms, what subject was being identified.    (010)

Complicating matters was that even if terms could be defined (subjects 
identified), lawyers, judges and others have this annoying habit of 
changing what was meant without any warning. I can go back and dig out 
references if anyone is interested (law school was some time ago) but 
the meaning of terms like "due process" have been in near constant flux 
since the earliest cases in the US Supreme Court. If one adds in 
appelate and state courts, the situation simply gets worse. Particularly 
if we are concerned about indexing more than simply the latest decision 
and arbitrarily declaring that all others meant the same thing 
determined for the current case.    (011)

Consider the power of the state to compell complusory vaccinations. That 
sounds fairly clear doesn't it? Well, except that in Buck v. Bell, 
Justice Holmes said that "the power of the state to compell complusory 
vaccinations extends to the cutting of the Fallopian tubes. Three 
generations of idiots is enough." (from memory) Hmmm, that doesn't sound 
like a case that is going to be cited in the current debate on the 
"right to privacy" issue does it? (Historical note: Buck v. Bell was a 
complusory sterilization case that compelled sterilization for welfare 
recipients. It is rarely mentioned when Holmes is cited as the "great 
dissenter.")    (012)

But to give Holmes his due, recall that logic was being pushed in the 
1890's in legal reasoning, to which Holmes responded with a series of 
essays that were published as "The Common Law," see: 
http://www.law.harvard.edu/library/collections/special/online-collections/common_law/index.php    (013)

In part Holmes said:    (014)

> "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience. The 
> felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political 
> theories, institutions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even 
> the prejudices which judges share with their fellow men, have had a 
> good deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by 
> which men should be governed. The law embodies the story of a nation's 
> development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if 
> it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics."    (015)

The concern of subject maps is the identification of subjects. How you 
choose to identify them, or to merge them once identified (such as using 
FOL), or to simply reason about subjects that have been identified, is 
entirely the users choice.    (016)

What subject maps do is specify what disclosure is necessary in order to 
inform others of your identification of subjects, such that they have 
some chance of meaningfully merging your subject map with theirs.    (017)

Finally, it is FOL that imposes limitations on mapping.    (018)

Assume that we have an experienced analyst that is reviewing information 
that has been recorded in a subject map using subject proxies. Due to 
their experience, they have reached a conclusion that what appears to be 
two distinct individuals is actually one. A conclusion that would result 
in merging proxies that represent the purchaser of weaponized anthrax 
and a recent entry into the US.    (019)

They may not have an articulable basis for that conclusion and so FOL is 
not going to be of any use. Should they simply not request merging the 
proxies on the basis of their judgment (assume the analyst is also 
identified as a subject) since they have no way to express it in FOL?    (020)

Hardly, one has a merging rule that says Analyst X says proxy A and 
proxy B represent the same subject. Utterly outside of FOL. And as a 
result, alarm bells start going off. And anyone who has clearance knows 
all the information about that proxy, including *why* it was merged.    (021)

Apologies for the length to anyone who has gotten this far. I deeply 
respect the power of FOL and think it should be used whenever 
appropriate. But the key word in that statement is *appropriate.*    (022)

I will end here for now but in my continued response to Matthew, 
hopefully this afternoon, I will address the difference in the status of 
"ontological subjects" and others that I think is implied in Matthew's post.    (023)

Hope you are having a great day!    (024)

Patrick    (025)

PS: The latest version of the Topic Maps Reference Model (TMRM) can be 
found at: http://www.jtc1sc34.org/repository/0710.pdf. I mention that 
because Matthew used the term "topic maps" in his post. The term "topic 
maps" is usually a reference to a specific data model and an XML syntax 
which is part of ISO 13250 but are less general than subject maps 
(defined by the TMRM).    (026)

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    (027)

Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!     (028)

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