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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontological correctness

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Michael Gruninger <mudcat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2007 17:13:38 -0500
Message-id: <1170281618.45c11492077c8@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi Chris,    (01)

Quoting Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>:    (02)

> On 31 Jan, at 10:44 , Pat Hayes wrote:
> >> 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.
> Yes, exactly.  And even the idea that there are theory/ontology-
> independent "facts" relative to which an ontology can be deemed
> correct is a HIGHLY dubious notion.    (03)

I'm a little puzzled by these comments.
Although there may be no absolute notion of correctness, there are
several possible relative notions of the correctness of an ontology.    (04)

First, an ontology may be correct with respect to the intended interpretations
of its nonlogical lexicon. The intended interpretations are specified as some
class of structures, and the ontology is correct with respect to these
if every one of the intended structures is a model of the axioms of the
An ontology will be complete with respect to these intended structures if all
of the models of the axioms are isomorphic (or possibly elementarily equivalent)
to the intended structures.    (05)

A second approach is that an ontology may be correct with respect to some
software system that can be considered as solving some inference problem.
For example, suppose the software system is a scheduling system; the
associated ontology will define terms such as activity,time,resource,product.
The inference problem in this example would be to generate a schedule that
is consistent with the activity,time, and resource constraints.
The ontology will be correct with respect to this system if every schedule
generated by the system is consistent with the axioms that define the
intended interpretations of the nonlogical lexicon.    (06)

Or is this what you meant by the following?    (07)

> * Logical coherence:  Are the various concepts of an ontology (when
> rigorously spelled out) consistent, both individually and jointly?
> * Empirical adequacy:  Relative to some assumed collection of facts
> -- and therefore relative to some assumed underlying O -- is a given
> extension O' of O compatible with that collection of facts?
> * Practical applicability:  Does the ontology serve its intended
> purpose?
>    (08)

- michael    (09)

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