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Re: [ontolog-forum] ambiguity interferes with

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 23:50:27 -0500
Message-id: <45F4DC13.7070709@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Debbie and Jack,    (01)

I realize that precise specifications are essential
for many purposes, but ambiguity is inevitable,
especially at the early design stages.    (02)

A few points:    (03)

  1. The goal in any kind of design (engineering,
     architecture, farming, etc.) is to transform a
     vague initial idea into a precise specification.    (04)

  2. But there is no unique way or automated way of
     going from a vague stage to a precise stage.
     However, semi-automated tools can help.    (05)

  3. The assumption that a single, universal ontology
     can cover everything would imply that all of science
     is finished -- no further discoveries are possible.
     That won't happen for a long, long, long time.    (06)

  4. However, it is possible to have a fairly general,
     underspecified type hierarchy.  But the detailed
     axioms are where conflicts arise.    (07)

  5. Those detailed axioms could be placed in optional
     modules that could be adopted in a mix or match
     approach.  Something like that is already done
     with program libraries, and ontologies can be
     organized along similar lines.    (08)

For more on these points, see the slides of the
following two talks and a recent paper:    (09)

    Concept Mapping    (010)

    Extending Semantic Interoperability    (011)

    Dynamic Ontology    (012)

Bottom line:  It's wishful thinking to hope that some
magic solution will eliminate vagueness and ambiguity.
But it is possible to find ways of controlling it.    (013)

John    (014)

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