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

To: "Barker, Sean (UK)" <Sean.Barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 13:08:42 -0500
Message-id: <p0623090dc2fcb2355dea@[]>
>       Thanks for your patience. My view, more precisely, is that
>anything called semantics must be grounded in pragmatics to make sense.    (01)

BUt that is clearly wrong, since there are 
semantic theories of wide application which do 
not refer to pragmatics. I think you state your 
case too strongly.    (02)

>If semantics has a use, it is in creating systems of terms, and
>structuring their differentia.    (03)

? No, it is is specifying the meanings of formal expressions.    (04)

>I would explicitly reject the idea that a
>single term taken in isolation has any semantics    (05)

So would most of us. Without, indeed, your subsequent qualification.    (06)

>other than those
>exhibited through the pragmatics, if only because terms themselves are
>differential - definition goes by genus and species.
>       The reason I want to insist on this is that, in data exchange,
>insisting on merely "defining" terms is a fast route to failure.    (07)

Quite. Ontologies do not usually set out to define terms.    (08)

>  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.    (09)

It is a pity that NATO did not consult a 
dictionary. In naval English, a cleat is a rigid 
- usually metal - attachment to a dock or boat 
around which a rope is tied, usually a two-horned 
object bolted to a surface. The rope work that is 
used to attach to the cleat is a hitch, in this 
case also known as a cleat hitch. There is also 
an older meaning, from which the naval usage is 
probably derived and which is still used in 
carpentry and related trades, where a cleat is 
any short support or tie which is attached in 
order to reinforce a framework or structure, or 
to support a cabinet or shelf. What all these 
meanings have in common, and which I would try to 
capture in an ontology, is the idea of a cleat as 
a component which, when attached to a mechanical 
system or framework, has the function of 
transmitting force from one part to another, or 
preventing movement of one part with respect to 
another; a connection which is usually detachable 
or temporary. This also covers the use of 'cleat' 
in sports footwear.    (010)

>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.    (011)

Hmm. I would expect that it would have retained 
its rather precise naval meaning in that case. I 
would guess that the wider meaning probably came 
into aircraft manufacture via sheet metal working 
and vehicle bodybuilding from carriage-building 
and hence from carpentry.    (012)

>       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.    (013)

Agreed. Our (IHMC) methodology is to begin by 
interviewing the domain experts who actually use 
the terminology, in depth, to create concept 
maps; only then does one begin to attempt an 
ontology.    (014)

>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.
>       The ontology and Semantic Web worlds would be well advised to
>look seriously at the data exchange world.    (015)

Both ontologies and the SWeb have been looking 
seriously at that world since their inception. 
But note that the SWeb, at least, cannot possibly 
rely on the entire planet setting up an agreed 
set of standards.    (016)

>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.    (017)

I see no sharp distinction between these two 
approaches. A data model is a kind of ontology, 
surely.    (018)

Pat Hayes    (019)

>Currently, this is not the
>       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.
>Sean Barker
>Bristol, UK
>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.
>>  -----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
>>  from an external partner or the Global Internet.
>>       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
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