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Re: [ontolog-forum] Visual Complexity

To: <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <rexb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: <matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2007 18:23:03 -0000
Message-id: <808637A57BC3454FA660801A3995FA8F04A2C84C@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Pat,    (01)

> >Hi Everyone,
> >
> >... I do think, though, that some
> >measure of correction of logical constructions is probably also
> necessary,
> Amen to that. But it is very hard to see how this is to be done. I 
> REALLY wish there were a nontrivial and useful notion of how to 
> measure 'correctness' of an ontology. It is not enough to just say, 
> it is correct if it "fits the facts" in some sense, since ontologies 
> may be based on very different, possibly mutually contradictory, 
> conceptualizations, and yet both fit the facts perfectly well.
> I have been worrying about this for years but have never managed to 
> get my thinking to a point where it seemed useful to pursue an active 
> research direction. If anyone has any ideas about it, I'd love to 
> engage in a discussion.    (02)

MW: Well I know I have views on this, so here goes.    (03)

First, there are the basic quality principles:    (04)

A quality ontology is "fit for purpose". This means an absence of
defects, which are what prevents an ontology from being fit for purpose.    (05)

An ontology that supported more purposes would be better than one that
supported a subset of those purposes.    (06)

Clearly at this level, as you point out, two ontologies can fit the facts
but be wildly different. As the next level of differentiation I would 
look at the empirical/mechanistic degree of the ontologies. This distinction
comes from mathematical modelling. Nearly any curve can be modelled by a 
polynomial expression, but this does not give you an insight into
what is going on. On the other hand a mechanistic model is based on
equations that give insight into how it works. I think the same principle
applies to ontologies, and would be reflected in the degree and nature of
the structure and axioms it contained.    (07)

Finally, as a tie breaker I would appeal to elegance and simplicity. 
Admitedly, these are hard to pin down, but, given that, it is surprising
how often people agree about what is more elegant/simple.    (08)

Regards    (09)

Matthew West
Reference Data Architecture and Standards Manager
Shell International Petroleum Company Limited
Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA, United Kingdom    (010)

Tel: +44 20 7934 4490 Mobile: +44 7796 336538
Email: matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx
http://www.matthew-west.org.uk/    (011)

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