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Re: [ontolog-forum] The Relation Between Logic and Ontology in Metaphysi

To: "'Pat Hayes'" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Chris Partridge" <mail@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 18:40:23 -0000
Message-id: <016201c767fa$8edcfa00$6a00a8c0@Aegir>
Pat,    (01)

Replies inline.
Am off home now - so will process replies tomorrow.
Have a good day.    (02)

Chris    (03)

-----Original Message-----
From: Pat Hayes [mailto:phayes@xxxxxxx] 
Sent: 16 March 2007 17:57
To: Chris Partridge
Cc: '[ontolog-forum] '
Subject: RE: [ontolog-forum] The Relation Between Logic and Ontology in
Metaphysics    (04)

>Hi Pat,
>You can put this back on-line, if you think anyone will be interested.    (05)

Whoops, I thought I had. Sorry.    (06)

>I suppose I am being a bit presumptuous to assume you are interested :-).    (07)

Not at all. (Presumptuous?? What do you think I 
have grown into?? Don't answer that.)    (08)

>I agree that you can make the logical manoeuvres that you are suggesting,
>but there is another question.
>How elegant is the solution?
>Is the proposal just a hack?
>And if it is, so what?    (09)

Well, Im all in favor of hacks if they work, both 
in coding and in writing ontologies. More 
seriously, terms like 'just a hack' convey 
nothing useful, seems to me. The case I was 
arguing was that any ontological content CAN be 
expressed in FOL. Responses along the lines of 
"OK, but I don't like that way of expressing it' 
(which is what 'just a hack' means) are not 
persuasive.    (010)

CP>At one level I really agree with you. I think the first hurdle to
overcome is to get things working, and at that stage worrying about whether
something is a hack is counter-productive. Once over that hurdle, I think
different problems arise. As the system gets more complex, management
concerns start to raise their ugly head.    (011)

>I had an intuition that this was an important question, but could not
>put my finger on a good argument until recently.
>Last year a colleague gave me a book on complexity theory that gave me the
>beginnings of an argument.
>The book is - but the argument is good. I can send you
>the relevant scanned pages if you want - be warned the pdf is enormous.    (012)

Book reference and page #s will do.    (013)

CP> MAKING THINGS WORK: Solving Complex Problems in a Complex World by
Yaneer Bar-Yam, President New England Complex Systems Institute - pp 28-29,
44-49, among others.    (014)

>Anyway, the nub of the argument is this.
>When the complexity (complexity theorists seem to call what IT people call
>functionality, complexity) of a tool is not up the task, you need to use a
>workaround. The greater the gap, the greater the number of workarounds.
>Now a lot of the work I do consists of trying to spot workarounds, and
>guessing what aspects of the tool (for tool read ontological foundations)
>need to be improved to make the tool sufficiently complex/functional. So
>this seems to make sense.
>I also chatted to a few complexity (software) people and they all said they
>could not understand traditional software architects all seemed to try to
>build complexity (i.e. functionality) OUT of the system. This struck a
>chord, as often the changes I was talking about (e.g. multiple rather than
>single inheritance) were condemned by programmers as too complicated
>(happened again last week). OK, I accept the foundation was a bit more
>sophisticated, but it made the rest of the system much MUCH simpler. We get
>order of magnitude reductions in code.    (015)

Sounds like what you were calling an improvement is what they would call a
hack, no? Are you sure you are talking about the same thing here?    (016)

CP>Absolutely sure it is about the same thing. There was a couple of emails
on exactly this point at the start of the SUO, for example. It is a bit of a
pons asinorum for O-O programmers. Higher order properties are another.
Parental and ancestral relations are another. I can give you a load of war
stories about this. Matthew West has some on this topic from his work at
Shell. In the O-O world they talk about anti-patterns, misleading mental
habits, I see this as a nice way of categorising them.     (017)

CP>I think there is a difference. The easiest way to appreciate this is from
the history of science. Why was Copernicus's solution superior to Ptolemy's,
Einstein's to Newton's? Would you say that they were hacks rather than
improvements?      (018)

CP>Or a simpler example. If you have three documents on your desk, having
one of two pile makes sense. If you have a few hundred, then you might need
more than two pile, if you have a few million, you might need a more
sophisticated structure than plies. Of course, in each case, you could be
bloody minded and just work with two piles - but this would cost.    (019)

CP> My experience is that once you get used to the idea, it becomes easier
to spot workaround - and how these can be fixed. Clearly there is a spectrum
and a grey area where one could argue about hack versus improvement.    (020)

>It also struck a chord with the FD of the company I am working with now. He
>reckons that in most of the accounting departments he has worked with in
>financial sector, on average, between 70 and 90% of the effort is going on
>workarounds. He want to re-engineer the accounting paradigm (I can send you
>my paper on this).    (021)

Yes, do.    (022)

CP> http://www.fdewb.unimaas.nl/marc/ecais_new/files/partridge.pdf
http://www.boroprogram.org/bp_pipex/ladsebreports/ladseb_t_r_23-02.pdf    (023)

>I accept that I cannot now easily define what a workaround is, but most
>people can sense where there is one. My question really is whether this is
>happening in some on the logical manoeuvres you are making. Not claiming to
>always know the answer - just raising the question.    (024)

Well, Im not sure what an ontology workaround 
would be like. The danger I can see is that 
anything at all complicated is condemned as a 
workaround or a hack, without saying what it is 
that one supposed to be working around exactly. 
Is making the distinction between a lake (same 
body of water from day to day even though every 
pint of water is replaced by river flow in about 
three days) and a particular 'piece' of water 
(which is dangerous to drink because 
contaminated, say) "just a hack", or is it a 
genuine ontological distinction? It sure *feels* 
like the latter.    (025)

CP>I would say it is a genuine ontological distinction.    (026)

CP> What I would see as a hack (and this was proposed to me this week) is
that as O-O programming languages tend to support single inheritance, so
subsumption/subtyping/subclassing should be single inheritance - i.e. a type
should only have one parent. It is possible to code a system this way (I was
showed an example), but it does take some ingenuity - and effort.
CP>Another example of a hack is suggested by Lakoff's Women, fire, etc.
book. In the absence of any form of writing, it probably makes sense to put
things into four categories - and women then get dumped in the same category
as fire and dangerous things. However, now we have writing and computers,
this seems a little primitive. (This is a version of my pile argument form
above.) Would you argue that this primitiveness, given our modern IT
technology is just a subjective point of view.
CP> Would you argue using just propositional logic or syllogisms when you
have FOL is hacking - or common sense?    (027)

Its true, often there are alternative ways of 
expressing something and no clear reason to pick 
one over the other. Maybe that is the sign of a 
"hack", ie its being arbitrary?    (028)

CP> I think not. I think when it is arbitrary, it is in a grey area.    (029)

Pat    (030)

>-----Original Message-----
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Pat Hayes
>Sent: 16 March 2007 16:47
>To: [ontolog-forum]
>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] The Relation Between Logic and Ontology in
>>... one could adopt a description-logical style
>>of expression and distinguish between mere
>>logical predication (F a) and natural-kind as a
>>special relation of class membership (Kind a F),
>>perhaps with an axiom which relates natural kinds
>>to their weaker (merely extensional) associated
>>(forall (x y)(if (Kind x y)((propertyOf x) y) )
>Sorry, should be
>(forall (x y)(if (Kind x y)((propertyOf y) x) )
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>    (031)

IHMC            (850)434 8903 or (650)494 3973   home
40 South Alcaniz St.    (850)202 4416   office
Pensacola                       (850)202 4440   fax
FL 32502                        (850)291 0667    cell
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