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Re: [ontolog-forum] Model or Reality

To: "Chris Partridge" <mail@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 11:24:09 -0500
Message-id: <p06230914c2e8d5fe8edc@[]>
>Hi Pat,
>Comments below.
>>  -----Original Message-----
>>  From: Pat Hayes [mailto:phayes@xxxxxxx]
>>  Sent: 15 August 2007 16:26
>>  To: Chris Partridge
>>  Cc: '[ontolog-forum] '
>>  Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Model or Reality
>>  >
>>  >The reason that this is even worth raising is that when one examines
>>  >operational systems (systems that do things) one finds that the deontic
>>  and
>>  >epistemic elements are key to successful operation - so an implementation
>>  >process needs to take account of them. (Does this count as "real work"?)
>>  >
>>  >I suppose one could argue that these kinds of operational systems are
>>  >outside the scope of ontological engineering - which then would (I
>>  suppose)
>>  >deal with systems that don't do things.
>>  I think you are here mixing up what the ontology is about, with the
>>  question of what kind of system is going to be using the ontology.
>I agree there is this distinction.
>My point was related to Chris's comment that "Ontological engineering is the
>science of creating, maintaining, sharing, integrating and reasoning upon
>large bodies of information represented in computers that are linked
>together on high-speed, open networks."
>Roughly speaking:
>1) Is ontological engineering (this discipline that people mention)
>concerned with creating these systems - 'creating, maintaining, sharing,
>integrating' could be seen, maybe, possibly, as implying this.
>2) Or is it about 'creating, maintaining, sharing, integrating' the
>information that these systems use - and, for example, not concerned how
>they use it.    (01)

Well, its centrally concerned with the information rather than the 
engineering of the systems which use it, so 2. rather than 1., yes. 
But of course that can't be entirely divorced from how it will be 
used: so 'not concerned' is rather too strong. But certainly there is 
a view which underlies the whole enterprise, that the ontology itself 
should not be aimed narrowly at one application or one purpose of 
use: that to some extent, maintaining a clear distinction between the 
content and structure of the ontology, and the details of how it will 
be used operationally, is Good Practice.    (02)

>If the scope of the discipline is 1) then the ontology has a (much) bigger
>part to play in the development of these systems than if 2) is the scope.    (03)

I think 2 is closer than 1.    (04)

>For my part, these discipline boundaries are a little academic - the systems
>need to be built.    (05)

Well, yes. But this is the ontolog forum, after all.    (06)

>  > >But this seems to restrict the scope
>>  >of application drastically.
>>  Well, it restricts it to ontological engineering, as opposed to (for
>>  example) general computer science, control engineering, gear design
>>  and electrical engineering. When you start making general
>>  observations about 'systems that do things', you are casting your net
>>  rather widely.
>I meant information systems that do things. A simple example would be a
>banking system that sent payment telexes. If it sent telexes for the wrong
>amount, there would soon be some feedback (I speak from personal
>But in any case, I bet you will have hard time finding
>>  many engineers who feel a need to take courses in deontic logic
>>  before considering themselves qualified.
>Agreed. But not my point.
>If one has a simple rule (common in academic textbooks about bank accounts)
>that says if the balance goes more that 100USD overdrawn, make an overdraft
>charge of 5USD. This is about what the system should do (hence deontology).    (07)

This is what one large community calls 'business rules'. These rules 
about "what to do" seem to belong in a different tradition than what 
has been traditionally called ontologies, but they are obviously 
related.    (08)

>Does representing this fall within the scope of ontological engineering?
>Let's say no.    (09)

I think the answer is, not until recently, but the boundaries may be 
changing. But certainly to handle things like this will require 
changes or new directions in ontology engineering, and we havn't got 
there yet.    (010)

>What about trying to represent a contract? This is a common (almost
>universal) feature of commercial systems. Is this in scope?    (011)

Same answer.    (012)

>If yes, then one
>is modelling what the parties to the contract should do (deontology).    (013)

Right, and its the 'should' that is new. One way to approach this is 
to think of the contract as specifying simply which actions are 
violations of the contract, which avoids getting into deontic 
reasoning as such.    (014)

>And so
>My point is that these are common (almost universal) features of operational
>commercial systems - and need to be represented.    (015)

You should be looking at the business rules standardization efforts, 
which are now fairly well advanced, cf.
http://www.omg.org/docs/dtc/06-08-05.pdf    (016)

>Whether information engineers should then study epistemology, deontology (or
>epistemic or deontic logic) or indeed ontology is then a separate question.    (017)

IMO, the SBVR attempts to use deontic logics as a foundation have 
proven rather patchy, to put it politely.    (018)

>I know your answer is no. (I am unsure whether I should ask this, but ...)
>If not, then what should they study to understand what their information
>represents?    (019)

For contracts, they should study contract law, surely.    (020)

>Or maybe it is all so obvious that there is no need for further
>study.    (021)

No, its horribly complicated.    (022)

Pat    (023)

>>  Pat
>>  --
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