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Re: [ontolog-forum] Levels

To: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Deborah MacPherson" <debmacp@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 09:25:22 -0500
Message-id: <48f213f30702190625s65c4891fs46cd042d7ce11d4e@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi Pat,

By driven I mean: causing pieces of information to be interpreted and prioritized a certain way. The meaning of a word for example is driven by the context of a sentence or paragraph.

By operate I mean: once information is in a set, these are the sequences showing how it works together. You read a sentence from the first word to the last word, not picking and choosing your favorites. A story operates independently from a dictionary. Both are complete on their own but the reader and the writer of either are following rules to convey and understand what the letters and words mean because of the ways they operate together.

Yes, I was thinking there were many examples in biology and chemistry and maybe the right comparison is moving from biology to chemistry to physics and so on. System to system to system each with their own drivers and operators. Disturb the chemistry of an organic entity, eventually the biology and physics "above" and "below" will get screwed up too.

What triggered my desire for a comparison in nature while reading the exchange between Chris Menzel and yourself was the premise of having an ontology for a particular university, then overlaying (actually the word was "importing") an ontology for all universities to avoid reinventing the wheel every time a university needs to establish the rules they use to drive (contextualize) and operate (process) their information. Over time I assume the overall university ontology would be modular and broad to be able to plug into a wide range of situations, the details are defined at the bottom and simplified in the overall.

A similar interplay happens in construction documents for architecture. For example, a state Department of Transportation, Education, Health or any organization has a set of General Conditions that all projects, contractors, and architects/engineers are required to meet. My objective is to create a similar set of conditions for organizations like museums to design and contract ontologies.

Next in the world of architecture and contracts, there are special conditions unique to a project simply to qualify the participants, set forth limitations on the work, and briefly describe related work that may be planned for later. The next level is what we call Division 1 governing the all the work results of a specific project, then the specifications of each area of work. Its like a pyramid where the documents on top are purposefully written to rarely change - this is what Architect means, this is the review process. Four or even five levels down we still have not talked about particular products yet. If the project is designing and constructing an ontology rather than a building, the exact tools, languages, and databases may be laid out very generally at this point, but to me, some of these ontology discussions are going too far into the details too early.

ALL of the instructions and obligations from the beginning (a study group that saw the need for a new school to be built) to the realization of a project (the carpenter with a hammer in his hand) are stated in only one place, one time without being repeated up and down the chain because then there are going to be mistakes and conflicts. When instructions are repeated on different levels, the context is reestablished and you have to start talking about which instructions take precedence when in fact they are all related. The upper levels need to stay the same, changing them takes a committee and maybe even laws, the lower levels change all the time unique to every project - they are precise but still driven by the blockier, less flexible, bigger pictures above. After all, all of the people involved from the bottom to the top need to produce good work so a school is properly built in the place where it is needed. Or the right ontology is developed to solve our new problems with explaining and understanding the world.

I imagine a small university's ontology is more detailed than an overall university ontology that could be imported. The individual university's ontology may be comprised of students names, backgrounds, and academic performance - the overall university ontology states which information should be tracked in the first place. By importing the instructions and requirements from above, you could see where a variable may have been left out that helped other universities. It does not matter if the other universities are bigger or smaller, more or less expensive, state run or private - all universities have a mission to improve student performance. This runs all the way through across every lower level ontology, its one of the few elements an upper level ontology would specify.

Ontologies are invented and constructed for a variety of reasons but they need to be interchangeable and connected in ways we do not observe with other things we make. I think concepts like importing ontologies also need to assign values or factors that let a person or computer recognize right away....95% of the instructions and words of this ontology have not changed for 10 years, it  originated in 25 different places - it must be an upper level ontology. The pace of change and distribution pattern tell its story as much as the ontology itself can once you get into it. The more ontologies that are developed, the more they need to be distinguished from each other because of the ways users drive and operate them.


On 2/18/07, Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx> wrote:
>I am wishing for an example in nature where a
>subpart can be driven by larger whole yet both
>can operate independently.

Can you say more about what you mean by 'driven' and 'operate' ?

>  Not the fractal parts to whole relationship
>necessarily, more along the lines of what
>natural systems, not shapes, are super detailed
>and work fairly well at their own level then let
>the modular upper version plug in and make them
>more efficient?

Let me see if I understand. You want a case where
there is a 'small' thing which operates
successfully in some sense, but also when it is
incorporated into some 'larger' thing as a part,
it then still does what it does, but now as part
of this larger system's activity?  I am sure
there are many examples of this in biology; the
mitochondria in animal cells might be one. Or do
you mean, that when incorporated into the larger
thing, the small thing can do what it did before,
but do it 'better', eg perhaps more efficiently?
Examples of this can be found in chemical
reactions , eg where the larger thing supplies a
catalyst for a reaction, or changes the
temperature or pressure so as to facilitate a

BTW, I would be interested to know what
connection you see between this topic and the one
that Chris Menzel and I were discussing in this


>On 2/12/07, Christopher Menzel
><<mailto:cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>cmenzel@xxxxxxxx >
>On Feb 12, 2007, at 12:12 PM, Pat Hayes wrote:
>>>  You're right that import statements should not be considered part of
>>>  an ontology.I agree it's the imported axioms that are part of the
>>>  ontology.
>>  Wait. Of course the imports statements are part
>>  of the ontology. What are you guys talking about?
>*If* ontologies are logical theories, then it seems to me that this
>confuses a mechanism for saying what (some of) the axioms of an
>ontology are with the ontology.Suppose I'm writing my ontology for
>TAMU faculty and admin again, and you've got a nice higher-level
>ontology for universities over there at IHMC.My statement "import
>(reiterate, endorse, whatever) Pat's university ontology" is not part
>of my ontology; it's a mechanism for saying what my axioms are that
>makes efficient use of an open network.
>I'm not dogmatically wedded to the idea that formal ontologies are
>logical theories of some ilk, but if you're right, and my import
>statement is literally part of my ontology, then formal ontologies
>are not (in general) logical theories, and we'd better get clear
>about the connection between the former and the latter.You seem to
>be favoring the idea that ontologies are rather more concrete than
>I'd been thinking.Do you think it would be better to say that a
>logical theory is only one of several components of an ontology?
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