Bravo, PatC (on the elaborated approach)! (01)
While it is a kind thought for PatC to mention "that the costs of
maintenance of the site would have to be deferred by ...,"
... We (CIM3) would be most happy to host the work (as a project
under Ontolog, as a separate cwe site, ... or whatever the team
chooses) if the current collaborative work environment (cwe) the
Ontolog community is running on is deemed acceptable. I will do
it on a pro bono basis, at least until someone realizes that this
work is important enough that it should be properly funded. (02)
Cassidy, Patrick J. wrote Wed, 21 Mar 2007 10:18:16 -0400:
> PC> ... the funding agencies have a very narrow focus,
> > at least with respect to ontologies.
> In an offline note, one member reminds me that the Cyc experience could
> discourage funders.
> I have some thoughts about that.
> It seems to me that the experience of Cyc could provide some useful
> or at least interesting lessons on what can and can't be done with the
> logical representation of knowledge, but all we have is anecdotes. I
> wish someone with a good knowledge of the history of Cyc would write an
> objective narrative of what went on there, what was actually tried, and
> how the trials succeeded or failed. I am particularly disappointed
> that they never seemed to put enough emphasis on the connection between
> the ontology and language, though they have done and continue to do
> some computational linguistics. To me there appears to be there is a
> large amount of valid and useful information in Cyc, and the
> documentation of each element, though often sketchy and sometimes
> absent, is still overall the best I have seen in explaining intended
> meanings of the concepts they represent.
> At this point, my interpretation is that, though (1) it is true that
> having a rich store of existing background knowledge is essential to
> enable the interpretation and use of new knowledge; and (2) the general
> method Cyc uses to represent knowledge is valid and useful (perhaps a
> little too baroque and impenetrable in parts?);
> That (3) we are discovering that being able to use represented
> knowledge effectively is probably 10 or more times harder than
> representing the knowledge.
> In this interpretation, the fact that Cyc hasn't been able to impress
> many people may be due to either:
> (3.1) Cyc just doesn't have the resources (person-time) to exploit the
> knowledge they have encoded, or
> (3.2) Cyc doesn't really know how to exploit the knowledge they have
> encoded, or
> (3.3) both.
> It doesn't necessarily mean that the knowledge they have encoded or
> the representation they used is invalid or useless. There is still
> parts of the story yet to be lived, not just told, since Cyc became
> more public and the Cyc foundation was formed.
> Meanwhile, I find the Cyc ontology (and SUMO) a useful source of
> represented knowledge that I intend to use so that I don't have to redo
> the parts they already did that I find I agree with, which, in the Cyc
> taxonomy chain, is over 90% (except for their execrable conflation of
> physical objects with attributes and substances, which I have had to
> disentangle). Also, John Sowa made a point in a previous post that we
> should keep the representation as close as possible to linguistic
> usage. I fully agree with that, both to make the ontology easier to
> understand, and also to make it easier to create the links to
> language-understanding programs.
> So should that make the agencies reluctant to fund other approaches to
> knowledge representation?
> If they think that there is no hurry, and they feel a need to hoard
> precious resources, perhaps the answer would be "yes" -- but . . .
> As I mentioned earlier, in the brief interval between the time I got
> the note that inspired this one, and the time I sent this, the country
> as a whole has lost a lot more than the $20 million it would cost to
> fund a plausible effort to build an ontology that had enough associated
> demo applications to make it easier to use than Cyc, and had a much
> wider following in the ontology community solely by virtue of a wider
> range of participants with significant funded time to devote to the
> project. So I think that a sense of urgency is justified to prompt
> additional efforts, not just to duplicate what Cyc did, but to exploit
> what they created as well as what others have created in the interim.
> Now, PatH made the point that DARPA doesn't care a fig about the
> strength of our economy, and even though the strength of our economy is
> what makes DARPA possible, I can't argue with that. I just think that
> if DARPA doesn't, someone should, but I am afraid it won't happen if
> the funders are given the impression that there is no point in trying.
> Can we agree on some plausible approach?
> My own inclinations are very experiment-oriented. As soon as we are
> into building programs we become engineers, and as engineers we test
> our hypotheses by asking whether or not our artifacts actually do what
> we want them to do. I think that we have reached a stage in the
> development of ontology science and technology that we can pursue
> experiments at a finer-grained level than just "my program gets it 52%
> right and yours only gets it 49% right, so I got the superior approach"
> kind of bake-off comparisons, which provide precious little information
> on how individual systems might be modified to perform the way we
> really want them to.
> The approach of trying to find reusable ontology modules that can be
> combined, which, as I interpret him, is what PatH suggests as one way
> to go via the Web, is, I believe, legitimate, but to advance quickly
> needs more coordination than can be achieved by opportunistic
> aggregates of user groups that may form from time to time. The modules
> can only perform within a much larger program unit, and the
> evolutionary benefits of comparing the utility of one module against
> another one with the same function is mostly lost if the larger parts
> of the systems being compared are very diverse. We can achieve a
> higher degree of precision in evaluating the performance of individual
> ontology modules if we had one - or a few - reference full ontology
> systems that can take these test modules and make a comparison of a
> full system with only one module at a time being different. That is
> one of the functions that I hope a foundation ontology as a "conceptual
> defining vocabulary" can perform, to provide independently developed
> ontology modules a "home away from home" where they can be tested in a
> systematic way, and provided to the larger community as aggregates of
> modules whose combined performance is known, at least in some test
> application. The foundation ontology should be as modular as possible
> to permit testing of alternative functional units, to take advantage of
> the evolutionary power of many contributors. But to do that, there
> would also have to be some test programs, which in turn should be
> modular for evolutionary capability.
> The first program I would want to build associated with the modular
> foundation ontology is the language understanding and generation
> application that only has a vocabulary somewhere in the range between
> the Longman linguistic defining vocabulary (2000 words) and the
> "receptive vocabulary" of a 5-year old (about 5000 words). The purpose
> of such a language unit would be solely (initially) to allow users to
> inquire about the content of the ontology in simple ordinary English
> (perhaps only a little more expressive than CLCE), and to add new
> knowledge and define new concepts (to be compatible with the ontology)
> using the defining vocabulary. But there should also be other diverse
> test programs that will allow different modules to be compared for
> different purposes.
> Regardless of the different approaches that we want to take, I think it
> would be useful to coalesce an ontology community with more structure
> than just the Ontolog forum - Perhaps a society? So that we can
> sponsor at least one on-line journal. PatH suggests a Wiki. I think
> that a new Wiki devoted specifically to topics of ontology would be a
> good thing - at a minimum to provide summaries of the threads that
> occur in this forum. But I think that a more permanent refereed
> journal, with articles in standard doc or pdf format, modifiable only
> by the authors, would also be a good way to allow members to present
> their better-organized thoughts and results, freely available, stable,
> and quotable. To make it stable, I think that the costs of maintenance
> of the site would have to be deferred by society membership fees, as I
> don't think we can take advantage of our host's generosity
> indefinitely. Any thoughts?
> Patrick Cassidy
> 260 Industrial Way West
> Eatontown NJ 07724
> Eatontown: 732-578-6340
> Cell: 908-565-4053
> pcassidy@xxxxxxxxx (04)
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