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Re: [ontolog-forum] Visual Complexity

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2007 12:08:45 -0500
Message-id: <45CA079D.70805@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Chris,    (01)

Your criticisms are well taken.  When tossing off an email note,
it's hard to spell out all the detailed qualifications that may
be needed to make it solid and unassailable.  But that is why
we need email exchanges like these.    (02)

 > Well, I don't know about *all* the hard work -- constructing
 > a good model can be very difficult!    (03)

I agree.    (04)

 > Thus, if I want to construct a formal model of, say, the
 > faculty and administrative structure at Texas A&M University
 > -- professorial and administrative ranks, departments, salaries,
 > who answers to whom, etc...    (05)

This is an excellent example, because it illustrates important
distinctions between human artifacts and natural phenomena:    (06)

  1. Natural phenomena evolve according to the laws of physics,
     chemistry, biology, etc., many of which are unknown.  Even
     laws that are correctly represented in mathematical formulae
     cannot be solved precisely because of experimental errors
     in the input data and the computational complexity of doing
     the calculations.    (07)

  2. Designs of artifacts originate in human conceptions that
     are finite and capable, at least in principle, of being
     specified precisely.    (08)

  3. However, any implementation of an artifact in a physical
     object may lead to complications that result from the
     interactions of physical laws with human conceptions.
     The best laid plans for artifacts "gang aft a-gley."    (09)

  4. Spontaneous social interactions of humans have all the
     complexity of any biological phenomena with the addition
     of further complexity caused by the big brains and egos
     involved.  Therefore, they belong to the category of
     natural phenomena.    (010)

  5. Legal systems of any kind (which include the administrative
     structure of TAMU) have the nature of artifacts, which are
     specified by a finite set of laws and therefore capable,
     in principle, of being modeled precisely.    (011)

  6. But humanly defined laws are rarely run through a theorem
     prover to check consistency.  Even those that happen to be
     consistent rarely anticipate all possible interactions with
     natural phenomena (floods, earthquakes, etc.), all other
     social institutions (governmental and nongovernmental), and
     human variations and foibles (e.g., a mathematician like
     Erdos, who would be a prize that any university would bend
     the rules to hire).    (012)

For the above reasons, it is safe to say that there are few,
if any, models that are perfectly true of whatever aspect of
reality they are intended to characterize.    (013)

This is one more statement of the challenge of knowledge soup:    (014)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/challenge.pdf    (015)

John    (016)

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