[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] A "common basis"

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Cassidy, Patrick J." <pcassidy@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 5 May 2007 02:15:02 -0400
Message-id: <6ACD6742E291AF459206FFF2897764BE01881EA4@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  From your method (3):
> (3) find ways to translate between them as they arise. I strongly
believe that the 
> only long-term feasible method is (3),    (01)

 . .  I believe that we are in near-total agreement, and I regret that
I have apparently
not been sufficiently articulate to make that crystally clear up to
this point.
There is probably one difference in methodology, but first the
agreement:    (02)

(1) Different logically compatible ways to say the same thing:
   I have said on every occasion (when space permits) that the
foundation ontology should accept *every* logically compatible way to
express the same notions, and provide translations between them for
people who prefer (or know of objective reasons for) different ways to
say the same thing (I even quote your IKRIS work).  I call this (after
Adam Pease) the "promiscuous ontology" principle.    (03)

   Logically incompatible representations present special problems, and
that is the case where either the difference is really over different
physical theories (as I mention in my segment you quote, below) , or if
it is a real logical incompatibility, then it will be necessary to
create sequestered contexts/microtheories to minimize the range of
difference and still allow those who want some incompatible parts to
use the remainder of the foundation ontology.  But since we both want
to allow all logically compatible representations, let us focus on
that, and leave logically incompatible representations for another
time.    (04)

  I have never at any point (in my whole life, honest) suggested that
logically alternative  representations be barred from any foundation
ontology - I know of others who have, but don't confuse me with them.    (05)

  (1.1)   Now that we agree on that, there is still a problem to be
solved: when we get down to the case where one is building an
application, and wants to use only one of those representations, there
has to be a mechanism to pull out only the representations one wants,
and delete the remainder.  Perhaps you already have a good automatic
way to do that - that would be great.  I can only think of some
cumbersome tactics.  But I think this problem is soluble, and leave it
for detailed consideration at a later time.
   On the other hand, John Batemen, in an off-list note, suggested (if
I interpreted him correctly) that this is a lot tougher than it looks.
He can comment in more detail.    (06)

(2) How to get to such a promiscuous but logically compatible ontology?
   I think it could be built by a consortium of *everyone* who wants to
participate, and since we will not exclude anything, there is little to
argue about.  We only need to recognize true duplication and avoid
multiple names for the same thing (unless they are explicitly logically
equated in the ontology), and of course, we need to use namespaces to
avoid name clashes for the same term labeling different things.  But we
cannot avoid the work of figuring out how the included ontologies or
ontology fragments relate to each other, and just deposit them in a
repository.    (07)

  Here is the crux: can this "consortium" be some whole unorganized
gemisch of people building ontologies and dropping them into
repositories without carefully testing them to see that they are in
fact logically compatible with each other?  Will potential users have
to test them two at a time in an n^2 fashion?. . . With  no trusted
central organization at all to verify that ontologies w, x, y, and z
are indeed logically compatible - and to point out which set of
representations are actually compatible with which others and what the
translation axioms are?  I find it impossible to imagine how anyone
would be able find the set of modules they need or ontologies they want
without some central organization providing some guidance to avoid
utter chaos.  If at all possible, it seems at a minimum extremely
inefficient.    (08)

   Most importantly, I think that, when real applications are being
built and 99+% of users of the common (foundation ontology/aggregate of
web ontologies) just want something that works and couldn't care a fig
about the different alternative ways to say the same thing, they will
ache for a definitive central 'authority' that can tell them reliably
which combination of modules can do what, and which combination
provides them with the maximum interoperability with the maximum number
of other users.  Perhaps you think that function can be served by a
registry, without some committee providing some kind of evaluative
guidance?    (09)

   That may be a real difference between us.  I cannot envision
convergence to a usable set of logically compatible representations,
with appropriate translations, by any foreseeable extension of the
existing way people have been building ontologies on the web.  But I
can imagine the convergence occurring much faster if there were an
explicit central group (open to all) that provided an efficient means
to test the compatibility of contributions from all sources, and
provide some guidance as to what combinations are compatible, and, as
experience proves out, which combinations can be used effectively for
which applications.   Some funding of such a group would speed this
effort enormously.    (010)

  The other difference is that I think that it would be most
productive, unless one has to develop a specific application
immediately, to focus first on the basic concepts of the (promiscuous!)
foundation ontology and try, using that, to get a good natural-language
interface to the ontology to make it a lot easier to build and use.
Trying to create the (promiscuous!) "conceptual defining vocabulary" is
a way, at the early stages, to focus effort on a tractable chunk of the
whole problem, which will have (I believe) the capability to maximize
semantic interoperability with minimum effort.    (011)

  Pat    (012)

Patrick Cassidy
260 Industrial Way West
Eatontown NJ 07724
Eatontown: 732-578-6340
Cell: 908-565-4053
pcassidy@xxxxxxxxx    (013)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Pat Hayes [mailto:phayes@xxxxxxx] 
> Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2007 12:47 AM
> To: Cassidy, Patrick J.
> Cc: [ontolog-forum] 
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] A "common basis"
> >There is a big difference between having a vocabulary that 
> allows us to
> >describe precisely different theories and their effects, and
> >believing that the models behind those theories are a full 
> description
> >of the real world.  There is no need to make such a confusion.  Adam
> >Pease has pointed out that a lot of comments about how "one 
> can't have
> >one consistent ontology" actually resolve into differences over
> >representations of the real world that can and must be resolved
> >experimentally,
> Wait. The differences that are most urgent and cause the most 
> problems for ontology are not differences between rival scientific 
> theories. The fact that nobody has a consistent theory encompassing 
> quantum electrodynamics and general relativity is a serious matter 
> for scientists, but not (yet) for ontologists. The real problem that 
> we face is this. One can take two people who agree completely about 
> the facts, and agree to use the very same logic to represent those 
> facts in, and yet they will produce different ontologies. (The 
> well-known example of how best to represent time and change is the 
> one I know in the most detail.) Moreover, those ontologies can be 
> formally inconsistent with one another. One cannot simply merge 
> together sentences from two such ontologies and expect to get a 
> sensible result. There are no *experiments* to resolve such 
> ontological differences, since the two authors agree about the 
> empirical facts; but one (for example) insists that there are two 
> distinct ways of existing in time, while the other treats these 
> simply as two (amongst many) ways to carve up a spatiotemporal 
> universe. The two authors here might be Barry Smith and me, 
> respectively. The differences are not empirical, but (sorry) 
> philosophical: in fact, they are *ontological*, in the original, 
> pre-AI, pre-Web, sense of that word. They reflect divergent, 
> incompatible, ways of thinking about some aspect of the world. 
> Differences like this cannot be resolved experimentally; and all the 
> evidence so far available suggests that to even attempt to 'resolve' 
> them, in the sense of deciding on a winner, is only going to alienate    (014)

> a sizeable fraction of the user base.
> Now, what should we do about this? All the proposals I have ever 
> heard boil down to one of three alternatives: (1) ignore it and hope 
> it will go away (2) for each such conceptual debate, decide on one of    (015)

> the alternatives and make it the single standard (somehow: perhaps by    (016)

> compulsion, as some military funders seem to assume; perhaps by 
> commercial pressure, as PatC seems to suggest) or (3) find ways to 
> translate between them as they arise. I strongly believe that the 
> only long-term feasible method is (3), and we have made considerable 
> progress along these lines, enough to suggest that the translations 
> are always possible and often fairly easy, once one approaches the 
> problem in a pragmatic frame of mind. If all ontologies were written 
> in IKL, we could definitely do the translations for almost all of the    (017)

> problems I aware of. In particular, option (2) simply isn't going to 
> work. People will simply not agree on what is the single right way to    (018)

> write ontologies. Nor should they have to: there is absolutely no 
> reason why they should. Any attempt to enforce (or otherwise 
> persuade) the entire planet will only produce the kind of 
> interminable semi-philosophical debates that we are already having.
> Now, it may well be that the protagonists of a single Correct Upper 
> Ontology (an idea which I cannot help but find amusing, sorry) are in    (019)

> fact doing the same thing in a different terminology. The work 
> involved in translating between rival conceptual frameworks is 
> probably essentially the same as that involved in fitting them into a    (020)

> single coherent overarching framework. In both cases one needs to 
> worry about consistency, mappings between different ways to express 
> things, and so on. So it may well be that at a technical level we do 
> not really disagree. But the great advantages of taking the third 
> position are less technical than social. It allows people to use the 
> conceptual framework they are most comfortable using (for whatever 
> reason). It distributes the effort, in that ontologies which agree 
> can work together while waiting for translators to other ontologies, 
> probably written by different people. It takes advantage of the Web. 
> It can support an 'ontology open source' model, with all its 
> advantages of flexibility and immediate 'swarming' of effort on 
> urgent problems. And finally, it requires no organization or massive 
> Manhatten-project scale funding or management effort. The world will 
> just do it, as needed, and the global network of ontologies will in 
> fact get created. It is already starting to happen.
> Pat
> -- 
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> phayesAT-SIGNihmc.us       http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes
>     (021)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (022)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>