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Re: [ontolog-forum] OWL and lack of identifiers

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 14:57:04 -0400
Message-id: <461FD280.6080202@xxxxxxxxxxx>
This discussion raises some serious issues:    (01)

  1. For physical objects, names are not unique because
     two different objects can have the same name.    (02)

  2. However, the laws of physics guarantee that no
     two physical objects can fill the same physical
     volume at the same time.  Therefore, space-time
     coordinates can serve as unique identifiers.    (03)

  3. But we still have controversies between those who
     claim that terms such as "vase" and "lump of clay"
     represent only one individual at any given space-time
     location and those who claim that they represent two
     distinct individuals.    (04)

  4. The URLs and URIs of the WWW are based on a naming
     scheme that ultimately resolves to physical devices.
     It guarantees that an identifier will determine a
     unique storage location at a given point in time.    (05)

  5. However, the policies of the WWW and of each domain
     on the WWW permit the same identifiers to be resolved
     to different physical locations at different times.    (06)

  6. And the nature of data allows multiple copies to be
     replicated at different locations very quickly, and
     it allows the same location to contain different data
     at different times.    (07)

  7. Those same issues make it very difficult to generalize
     a naming system designed for data to a naming system
     for physical entities and vice versa.    (08)

These characteristics imply that the URIs of the WWW are
important for certain kinds of resources, but they are just
one scheme among many other "universal" schemes, such as
social-security numbers, ISBNs, geographical coordinates,
DUNS numbers, etc.    (09)

Any naming scheme must specify (1) the permissible string
of bits for an the identifier, (2) the naming scheme that
determines how those bits are resolved to some entity,
and (3) the ontological assumptions for determining how
to interpret anything that may be found by this process.    (010)

John Sowa    (011)

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