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Re: [ontolog-forum] Two ontologies that are inconsistent but both needed

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 09 Jun 2007 08:44:01 -0400
Message-id: <466AA091.8090104@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Barry,    (01)

I agree on that point:    (02)

 > For we have, after all, more important work to do.    (03)

But as I have said in previous notes, I have serious
concerns about whether some very general and very detailed
axiomatizations that people are proposing are worth doing.    (04)

As an example of something very large that is certainly
worth doing is the enormous amount of detailed modeling
of the Boeing 787, which has cost billions of dollars.    (05)

Yet that very large model is conceptually much simpler
than Cyc or many of the other ontologies that have been
proposed:    (06)

  1. The airplane ontology, although large, consists of
     a system of many independently developed models,
     with well-defined interfaces.    (07)

  2. The very difficult issues that Cyc must face, which
     include social interactions of people, organizations,
     societies, and the environment, are not required for
     models of the 787.    (08)

  3. The fact that the 787 and all its components are
     artifacts implies that the engineers have total
     control over each component.  Whenever they find
     interactions that are difficult to axiomatize,
     they have the option of redesigning the components.    (09)

  4. The interfaces to any component are much simpler
     than the components themselves, and they allow
     engineers working on either side of the interface
     to ignore any details on the other side that are
     not specified in the interface.    (010)

None of these simplifications apply to large ontologies
such as Cyc and certain others that people have been
proposing.    (011)

In bioinformatics, for example, there are very large
terminologies, which are widely used.  But unlike the
Boeing 787, which has detailed mathematical and logical
specifications for each component, the components of the
human body have no formal specification, and most of
the interactions across interfaces are unknown.    (012)

That is why I have serious concerns about taking informal
terminologies and dressing them up with formal axioms.
I agree that axioms are necessary to do detailed reasoning,
but one tiny mistake in one axiom can become a matter of
life or death.    (013)

John    (014)

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