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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: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 09:08:00 -0400
Message-id: <4454B6B0.9020709@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Bill,    (01)

Bill Andersen wrote:    (02)

> Chris pretty well covered all the main points, but I couldn't resist...
> On Apr 29, 2006, at 20:10 , Chris Menzel wrote:
>> On Sat, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:19:55AM -0400, Patrick Durusau wrote:
>>> ...Finally, it is FOL that imposes limitations on mapping.
>>> 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.
>>> They may not have an articulable basis for that conclusion and so FOL
>>> is not going to be of any use.
>> I'm not at all sure what an "articulable basis for a conclusion"  is, 
>> but
>> why does one need such a basis any more in the case of an identity
>> assertion than in any other case?  If the analyst comes to believe  that
>> S1 is in Afghanistan, she writes: In(Afghanistan,S1).  If she comes to
>> believe that individuals S1 and S2 are one and the same, she writes:
>> S1 = S2.
> I believe it is more the case that Patrick is confused between:
> 1) Syntax (he's talking about proxies) versus semantics (what the  
> proxies are taken to denote)
> 2) Belief (in one analyst's judgement, A=B)
> 3) Logic (there is no reason that the sentence 'A=B' could not be  
> made the subject of reference, such that whatever basis a believer  
> may have for believing what it expresses could be articulated formally)
> It has been difficult for me to understand many of Patrick's (and  
> related correspondents') comments that imply that TM and other  
> similar proposals somehow transcend the "limitations" of logic for  
> the purposes of doing "ontology".  I'm quite certain Patrick and I  
> mean something very different by the term.    (03)

I don't think we mean different things by "ontology" but we accord an 
"ontology" a different status.    (04)

In my view, an ontology is composed of subjects with descriptions, no 
more or less than any subjects that are purported to be classified by 
such an ontology.    (05)

And, those subjects can be described using FOL, as well as any other 
means of description, all of which are equally valid descriptions.    (06)

That is to say that the choice of FOL for describing the subjects that 
compose an ontology is only one choice among many. And judging from the 
number of non-FOL descriptions of subjects, it is not the most favored one.    (07)

Matthew started off this particular thread by saying that Topic Maps 
don't use FOL.    (08)

First, I tried to distinguish Topic Maps from the more general Subject 
Maps paradigm described in the TMRM.    (09)

Second, I think I have already said that you could use FOL for subject 
descriptions if you so desired.    (010)

Third, and here I suspect we disagree, I don't see the need to require 
anyone to use FOL to describe their subjects. To do so automatically 
excludes any description that does not use FOL, which reduces the amount 
of information that can be assembled for any particular subject.    (011)

You could say and probably will, that non-FOL descriptions could be 
translated into FOL descriptions. Without conceding that observation, 
the more pressing question is why? Afterall, in order to reason about 
anything it has to be identified and subject proxies fulfill precisely 
that role. With whatever descriptions a users chooses to use. Granted 
that FOL experts are more comfortable with FOL, but so are other users 
comfortable with their systems of description as well. What is more,  
subject proxies via keys being references to proxies that represent 
those subjects, enable the representation of those systems of 
identification.    (012)

To my mind you may as well replace FOL with English and argue that all 
descriptions should be in English to facilitate interchange. I am sure 
there are any number of alternative languages that could and would be 
suggested in a debate on that topic.    (013)

The key (sorry) to what I have been saying is that subject proxies 
(which are not syntax until you create a legend to govern their 
existence) represent subjects and the descriptions that can be given of 
a subject and merged to a subject proxy are not limited by the TMRM. 
Granted that any system in particular is going to have limitations in 
terms of what it will or will not accept, but that is quite separate and 
apart from the model presented in the TMRM.    (014)

I assume that most of the FOL supporters will concede that systems exist 
that describe subjects without using FOL. So what is required to merge 
those systems with one using FOL? The answer for subject maps is a 
mapping of descriptions of the same subject to a single subject proxy, 
which then captures both the FOL description and the non-FOL description.    (015)

The point of the suggested mapping between FOL and non-FOL systems is to 
illustrate that the TMRM does not privilege any method of identifying a 
subject over any other.    (016)

Let me conclude by noting that I hope we can distinguish between 
representation in FOL and the use of FOL in an automated system to 
"reason" about subjects. When I speak of the "limitations" of FOL it is 
the the second sense and not the former.    (017)

Hope you are having a great day!    (018)

Patrick    (019)

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    (020)

Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!     (021)

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