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Re: [ontolog-forum] Current Semantic Web Layer pizza (was ckae)

To: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Barker, Sean (UK)" <Sean.Barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 10:14:36 +0100
Message-id: <E18F7C3C090D5D40A854F1D080A84CA44CCD9D@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

John    (01)

        Thanks for your patience. My view, more precisely, is that
anything called semantics must be grounded in pragmatics to make sense.
If semantics has a use, it is in creating systems of terms, and
structuring their differentia. I would explicitly reject the idea that a
single term taken in isolation has any semantics other than those
exhibited through the pragmatics, if only because terms themselves are
differential - definition goes by genus and species.    (02)

        The reason I want to insist on this is that, in data exchange,
insisting on merely "defining" terms is a fast route to failure. Success
comes only when one has compared the way different organizations use
terms. Definitions are not a substitute for due diligence. They only
work where one is assured of a common culture. For example, many
companies have to translate part descriptions used by designers into
NATO standard technology. One example: in one design office, the term
"cleat" was used to refer to a small metal tie connecting two components
together, whereas the official NATO definition of cleat is a piece of
rope work. One of my colleagues observed that cleat is usually a naval
term, and has suggested that this term came into the aircraft industry
from one of the old flying boat manufacturers, which was itself
originally shipyard.    (03)

        From a project management viewpoint, in a data exchange project,
this is the most important thing you must say, and you must say it on
day one. Otherwise you run the risk that the customer will treat the
project as a technical problem, and fail to commit the effort that they
need to put in to validate and test the exchange - this can be 70-90% of
the project costs.    (04)

        The ontology and Semantic Web worlds would be well advised to
look seriously at the data exchange world. Despite the technical
limitations of data modelling, data exchange is extensively used in the
engineering industries, however this did not happen before they had done
a great deal of work trying to get it right. Several years ago, the
estimated government and industrial investment just to develop the STEP
series of standards stood at $400,000,000. To get industrial acceptance,
ontology based systems will need to prove as reliable and more cost
effective than data model based approaches. Currently, this is not the
case.     (05)

        I should also note that in discussions with other people in the
European aerospace industry, the idea that information interchange
should be based on pragmatics is uncontroversial.    (06)

Sean Barker
Bristol, UK    (07)

This mail is publicly posted to a distribution list as part of a process
of public discussion, any automatically generated statements to the
contrary non-withstanding. It is the opinion of the author, and does not
represent an official company view.    (08)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John F. Sowa [mailto:sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx] 
> Sent: 30 August 2007 03:55
> To: Barker, Sean (UK)
> Cc: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Current Semantic Web Layer pizza 
> (was ckae)
>                *** WARNING ***
> This mail has originated outside your organization, either 
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>      Keep this in mind if you answer this message. 
> Sean,
> I'm glad that you found the 3-way distinction helpful, but I 
> want to emphasize three very important points:
>   1. It is possible to have syntax by itself without semantics or
>      pragmatics.  That would be a purely uninterpreted notation
>      with no meaning other than to create strings of symbols.
>   2. It is possible to have syntax and semantics without pragmatics.
>      That would be a pure description of something, such as a list
>      of observed data with no indication of what to do.
>   3. For any practical language of any use in engineering, it is
>      essential to have all three:  syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.
> SB> I shall keep to Pragmatics in future, believing as I do that
>  > Semantics is a useful heuristic....
> No.  You cannot do pragmatics without having syntax and semantics.
> It's impossible to say anything without syntax.  It's 
> impossible to refer to anything without semantics.  And it's 
> impossible to do anything pragmatically without being able to 
> make statements
> (syntax) that refer to something (semantics).
> John
>     (09)

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