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

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Bill Andersen <andersen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 12:15:06 -0400
Message-id: <2FA77B0B-A4D9-4459-8746-9667703B7DCE@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi Chris.    (01)

On Jun 13, 2007, at 11:57 , Chris Partridge wrote:    (02)

> Barry,
> I'd like to believe this is true, but, I am not quite sure it is.
> I was at an conference a few years back with some engineers doing  
> the safety
> critical work (including simulation) for the Paris Metro - and what
> intrigued me that there were more concerned that the model of what  
> they were
> going to implement had an easy to check structure than a close  
> match to
> reality. I suppose as they were going to impose this reality, they  
> felt a
> simpler structure was safer.
> I agree there is a stronger argument when you are trying to model  
> natural
> structures - but even here I suspect the civil engineers building the
> nuclear power station use Newtonian rather than quantum mechanics.
> The engineering question is how useful is to understand the underlying
> reality. And I think we are still waiting for a good argument.    (03)

Yes - the question of what is good engineering wrt ontology is  
certainly an open one.  It seems obvious to me, however, that a  
mutual understanding of reality (to the extent that that can be  
provided by science) is precisely what allowed the engineers working  
on the Paris Metro to do what they did.  If one group, however,  
believed Newton's laws would do the job for them, and the other group  
believed the spirit of Napoleon moves the cars on schedule, it'd be  
unlikely they'd come to an agreement.    (04)

I'll pose this question to the list as I've posed it before to many  
others, most of whom have failed to give a satisfactory reply  if  
ontology-building is an exercise in application-specific modeling  
among a constrained group of users, then why is it not just a variant  
on what we already do with UML which goes under the more pedestrian  
name of data modeling?  Surely it cannot be the use of this or that  
formalism which delivers the desired interoperability properties.     (05)

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