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[ontolog-forum] Role of definitions (Remember the poor human)

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2007 11:01:19 -0500
Message-id: <20070213160217.DFD47109A1D@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

>I would prefer that we don't say that names are "defined". Very few
>ontology languages provide for actual definitions of names, and
>several that once did (notably KIF) no longer do. Explicit
>definitions are semantically troublesome, practically of no actual
>use, create paradoxes, and generally have negative utility. The
>entire SWeb apparatus has no definitions in it anywhere, nor is it
>likely to in the future. It is very hard to even see what it would
>mean to define a globally useable name. Let us just say that names
>occur in ontologies, and ontologies constrain the meaning of names.
>Pat    (01)

 From my experience working with biologists and medical researchers 
on ontologies, definitions (ideally both natural language definitions 
and equivalent formal definitions) play a very useful role when it 
comes to ensuring that ontologies are populated in consistent ways 
across disciplines and subsequently used correctly (or indeed at all) 
in practical applications. Most of those involved in such use will 
not have logical or computer science expertise. Where else should 
they turn to find out what a term means?
BS    (02)

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