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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: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 13:06:24 -0500
Message-id: <48f213f30702201006u7f1dea5cq8d651ad5d949bfec@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi Pat    (01)

On 2/20/07, Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx> wrote:
> >Hi Pat,
> Hi Debbie, thanks for your detailed reply. This conversation is interesting 
>to me because, in part, we seem to be coming from such very different 
>backgrounds and use terminology so differently. I suspect this may be rather 
>typical of communication in this forum, so it might be useful to pursue it in 
>more detail. Please understand this response as an attempt to further useful 
>communication.    (02)

Yes, same.
> >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.
> Hmm. I understand the particular example, but I'm not sure how far you intend 
>it to be generalized (and your use of very general language of 'information' 
>and 'context' suggests that you do intend it to be understood very generally).    (03)

> Also, Im not sure what you mean by a 'piece of information'.    (04)

A word, a letter, a line on an architectural drawing, a specification
of many words, a set of drawings of many lines - I see them all as
pieces that fit together.    (05)

 In the world I come from, information itself isn't interpreted:
rather, *signs* (or systems of signs) get interpreted,    (06)

For example drawing annotations showing the reader of a construction
set which sheet and detail to go to for more information.    (07)

> and the result of this interpretation    (08)

needs to be consistent for any reader so, from my world, what the
architect shows and specifies is the same as what the owner pays for
and the contractor provides.    (09)

can be
> referred to as the information conveyed by the
> sign.    (010)

The sign, or keynote, 4H7 means thermoplastic core panel, we list
three acceptable products and manufacturers. Its not up to
interpetation, just a shorter symbol for the drawings.    (011)

What are your equivelants to "The Drawings"    (012)

How do you "Specs" read? Are there consistent "addresses" where
information belongs?    (013)

This is the 'semiotic' usage that I am
> familiar with. I suspect that what you mean is
> best conveyed to someone who speaks my language
> by saying that 'driven' refers to the process by
> which a sign is interpreted    (014)

Its the readers understanding based on the definition of the sign
provided elsewhere in more detail.    (015)

(using its 'context'
> - another very scruffy word that has many
> possible meanings, but lets leave that issue
> aside)    (016)

suggestions?    (017)

as conveying some information, e.g. as
> being part of a proposition that is asserted,    (018)

A whole design asserted, comprised of a defined set of symbols with
their exact meanings set forth in contract documents. Requests for
interpretation happen all the time and contractors are required to
notify you if there is a discrepency or they don't understand what the
signs mean.    (019)

Say a museum works five years to acquire funding to digitize their
collection and wants to develop both an ontology to organize their
information, and model their building to make virtual exhibits. They
can see and evaluate the building model, they already know thier
object collections but how can they check they are getting what they
are paying for in the ontology? Is the only way they know it works and
suits their information needs by using it after it is made? What do
they approve along the way while it is in the design stage of all
symbols, equal to early architectural plans?    (020)

> perhaps part of a map or diagram or model that is
> claimed to represent some reality. Do I have that
> more or less right?    (021)

Yes.    (022)

> >By operate I mean: once information is in a set,
> >these are the sequences showing how it works
> >together.
> My word, that *is* hard to understand!
> (information in a set? That does not make any
> sense in my language :-)    (023)

I guess this will have to be a seperate conversation later. I don't
know the terminology or a metaphor to explain herein.    (024)

But continuing the above
> translation guess into semiotic/semantic
> language, this could be what we refer to broadly
> as 'syntax': that is, the overall patterns into
> which signs are arranged so as to convey larger
> meanings.    (025)

What makes them a set rather than just letters, words, lines in plans    (026)

(I say 'pattern' because although in
> language these are sequential,  they need not be,
> e.g. consider diagrams of various kinds; and even
> some human natural (written) languages use
> non-sequential structures.)    (027)

Yes!!!!! Take for example a museum storage room, nothing is in order.
The vases of clay versus porcelain are together, vases with flowers
are together in meaningless sets. However, the curator brings them out
to tell a story in a sensible set. Not
> >You read a sentence from the first word to the
> >last word, not picking and choosing your
> >favorites.    (028)

Showing someone looking a message.  Happens to be based on the curator
picking their favorites, but putting them in groups and orders is more
important. There is not a plan for the museum storage room, it is the
library, objects have numbers and possibly known locations. On display
they have syntax.
> That suggests the syntax interpretation also. But...    (029)

Interpretation by the curator, specifications by the architect, are
the official nonnegotiable interpretation for the new design.
> >  A story operates independently from a dictionary.
> ...that doesn't, I have to admit. On the the other hand...
> >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.
> ...that is almost a definition of syntax :-)    (030)

Maybe I've been using the word context wrong all my life.
> BTW, your terminology of "drive" and "operate"
> grates on me slightly because this sounds
> essentially dynamic, process-like;    (031)

My concern is the actions of putting together a drawing set and
specifications. Once they are on paper they can be approved and
discussed or argued but the dynamic process of driving and operating
the readers understanding to suit the writers intention is the issue
for me.    (032)

whereas the
> semiotic/semantic framework, while it can be
> applied to process descriptions and the like, is
> not itself essentially dynamic or
> process-oriented.    (033)

Is it set stages then? Please explain either the typical or optimal
path for an ontology builder and museum director to follow when hiring
someone to create and document this design together. Both to work for
their own building, collection, objects and messages and to fit in
with the universal signs used by all builders, search engines looking
through the end results, donors wondering what they are sponsoring in
plain language...    (034)

Which makes me wonder if my
> translation is omitting some essential aspect of
> your meaning (?)
Rough attempt at explanation, should be shown in a drawing.
> ---------
> >
> >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.
> Re. the previous comment, these are all of course
> dynamic systems. I wonder, would language itself
> provide a 'static' example? (The lexical context
> of a word in a sentence determining its local
> meaning.)    (035)

Local meaning versus global meaning is probably a better definition as
well - THX
> >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"
> Right. (You know that this word has a technical
> meaning in ontology languages? It means (roughly)
> that the importer ontology re-asserts the content
> of the imported one.)    (036)

The imported one comes in and takes over the rules? Does it keep track
of the discrepancies along the way in order to update later?
> >) 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.
> That is the general idea, yes. Another way to put
> it is that the 'upper' level provides the
> background assumptions that all uses of the
> vocabulary must agree to.    (037)

OK - here we agree    (038)

In practice, what this
> amounts to is often a collection of guidelines on
> how to use the conceptual vocabulary so as to
> avoid disturbing the metaphysical intuitions of
> the designer of  the 'upper' level, for example
> by insisting on distinguishing 'continuants' from
> 'occurrents', or 'properties' from 'roles' from
> 'tropes', rather than any actual substantial
> agreement about the way that the world itself is
> organized.
Any pictures or diagrams anywhere?    (039)

> >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.
> Hmm, a kind of Building Code for ontologies?    (040)

YES!!! especially ontologies used by the general public who do not
understand the signs and need to be shown by a curator or architect
the best order in which to see. Also like a blog the amount of time
needed to really understand what they are looking at or using.    (041)

> you see this as itself being an ontology?    (042)

I see it as a set of drawing and specification standards. Addresses,
for example numbers like a spec section 05 12 00 Structural Steel, for
the bits and peices to be explained so you know where to look for the
definition the same way on every project.    (043)

If so,
> how does it relate to the ontologies it
> constrains?    (044)

The imports from above keep track of all the problems they are having
with the ruffians below. The imports work better and show the
undefined new ontologies where they are missing important elements and
propose suggestions for blanks based on hundreds or millions of
similar ontologies used by others over time.    (045)

Does it describe them, or is it a
> compulsory import for them?    (046)

Depends on the subject matter. Subjects that are always rapidly
developing and changing whose to say which one is in charge, subjects
like how do you teach a kid to understand geometry, can be more fixed.    (047)

That is, in the
> latter case, does it, er, define some concepts
> they *must* use?    (048)

Yes becuase nobody knows how to read the signs or understand the plans
walking in uneducated. They probably don't have time to learn
everything first and need an overview.
> >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.
> Well, to be fair, some of us spend our
> professional time in these details.    (049)

No offense intended. God is in the details. The devil is in the
details. The simplifications and standards reigning over all could not
happen without careful development of the details.    (050)

Using your
> analogy, we aren't all architects. Some of us are
> builders, some are building contractors, and some
> of us are brick manufacturers.    (051)

I want to develop a chart directly comparing roles.    (052)

> But more seriously, it isn't at all clear to me
> that a process well-suited to architectural
> specification is automatically well-suited to
> ontology construction. For one thing,
> architecture is really a very particular topic,
> whereas ontologies can have any subject-matter at
> all (and also the set of purposes or uses for
> ontologies is still not completely clear, and may
> well grow as the ideas as disseminated.)    (053)

What I am trying to capture is the similarities. The architect is the
only one who sees everything together.
> >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.
> Right, I follow this. What you are describing
> here is a very elaborate and well-defined kind of
> planning.    (054)

OK. Hopefully one day it will be a simple set of guidelines.    (055)

 Im not at all sure however that we know
> (yet) how best to plan a large ontology.    (056)

How large do you think is possible?    (057)

> example, should there be agreement first on an
> 'upper-level' ontology?    (058)

Wouldn't there ultimately be many upper level ontologies ideally one
agreed upon version for each subject matter?    (059)

This is often assumed to
> be needed, and there are proponents of many rival
> UpperOntologies out there, but Im quite
> unconvinced that such agreement is necessary or
> even desirable, and that a much more useful
> approach is to focus first on ways that different
> 'upper' frameworks (essentially, formalized
> metaphysical positions) can be mapped into and
> from one another, and then allow each 'lower'
> ontology writer to use their favorite.    (060)

Yes. I agree with this. The amount of leeway in selecting and using
favorites depends on who the reports and results go to. For someones
own enjoyment, make whatever you want. For a public organization, the
ontology may choose for them or create limits on picking and choosing    (061)

> will no doubt disagree: but my point here is to
> suggest that we simply do not have a stable
> enough overall methodology yet, to justify the
> adoption of an architectural-style
> planning/review process.
Its not just the technology its having people ready to change too. The
BIM (Building Information Modeling) community is in the middle of
both. The IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) and OmniClass even to some
extent Open Geospatial Consortium are confronting both sides of basing
new processes on existing ones.    (062)

> >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.
> Probably, yes.
> >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.
> This is exactly the kind of information that
> should be derivable from the pattern of Web
> links.    (063)

What does the pattern of web links look like. A map by Lumeta or is it
something you and your colleagues can work with without seeing it laid
out?    (064)

The fact the SWeb ontologies are Web
> resources is important for exactly this kind of
> social reasoning. The Web reflects the actual
> social reality better than any attempt to codify
> or record it explicitly:    (065)

It reflects it because it happens and changes and there is no formal,
stamp here we are September 2005, this part of the world is mapped,
these collections are online, you follow this to get there, this was
popular etc versus STAMP here we are back in 1893, the steam shovel
was just invented and the borders of africa looked like this BOOM    (066)

just ask the folks at
> Google.    (067)

Google Earth and Google Scholar are very exciting, in addition to
Google itself. It would be terrific to eventually tie all of Googles
resources together in "sets". An assembly kit on the low level
equivelant of Lincoln logs for aspiring young data architects,
builders, brick makers etc.
> >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.
> Agreed, but see the previous comment.    (068)

Thanks for your comments Pat and best regards - Debbie
> Pat
> >
> >Debbie
> >
> >On 2/18/07, Pat Hayes <<mailto:phayes@xxxxxxx>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
> >reaction.
> >
> >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
> >thread.
> >
> >Pat
> >
> >>
> >>Debbie
> >>
> >>On 2/12/07, Christopher Menzel
> >
> >>wrote:
> >>
> >>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?
> >>
> >>-chris
> >>
> >>
> >>
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> >>Deborah MacPherson
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