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

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Kathryn Blackmond Laskey <klaskey@xxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 12:18:22 -0400
Message-id: <p06110406c295c7c66c82@[]>
>...some engineers doing the safety
>critical work (including simulation) for the Paris Metro ... 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.    (01)

If they impose it, then they can impose a reality that matches their 
model.  Ergo, it is a good model of reality.    (02)

There are cases in which it is a good idea to use an inaccurate and 
oversimplified model for decision-making purposes (a rough answer to 
the right question).  Even in such cases, understanding the 
phenomenon is a useful heuristic to (1) obtaining a good a rough 
approximation, and (2) knowing when not to trust the approximation 
because the conditions under which it gives you a good enough answer 
aren't met.    (03)

>... I suspect the civil engineers building the
>nuclear power station use Newtonian rather than quantum mechanics.    (04)

You just made my point for me!  Those engineers had better have a 
solid understanding of when the Newtonian approximation is adequate 
and when it is necessary to model a phenomenon with quantum theory. 
There are plenty of places in nuclear physics where quantum theory is 
essential.    (05)

>The engineering question is how useful is to understand the underlying
>reality. And I think we are still waiting for a good argument.    (06)

It's problem dependent.  For most interesting real-world problems, 
the vast majority of practitioners need only rough approximate 
models, but there need to be a few experts who understand the deep 
underlying reality, and there need to be good processes in place for 
identifying when that expertise is required and bringing in the 
experts.    (07)

Kathy    (08)

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