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Re: [ontolog-forum] Axiomatic ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2008 15:08:41 -0500
Message-id: <47A22AC9.6020704@xxxxxxxx>

Rob Freeman wrote:
> General meaningful classes are accessible by clustering words on their
> context. Classes found in that way don't have names until you give
> them names, and we have still have no way of reasoning with them, but
> basic meaningful classes can be found.    (01)

"Can be found" by what kind of agent?  This is, after all, what Google 
does, and it works quite well for assisting humans to find "classes" of 
interest.  But it works because experienced human users try a group of 
terms they think will yield the "class" they want and are willing to 
modify the search group several times if the first results are 
disappointing.  Google also uses several contextual clues that the user 
does not expressly provide.  (I found that after several hours of 
researching a military history topic, asking it to search for a "rock 
star" name produced a little-known Confederate general as the first hit!)    (02)

I believe that what Rob says is true if you restrict the search space to 
a set of publications that are reliable and focused on particular 
domains and topics.  And it can probably work well over the Web for a 
topic that is uniquely characterized by a particular group of terms. 
But over the entire Web, you will find links between cheese and chalk 
(literally).  You need a mechanism for filtering that, and Google 
succeeds because its algorithms work well with the experimental filters 
that human agents invent, and because human agents reject a set of 
results that is off the intended topic.  But human agents are providing 
the massive context knowledge and familiarity with natural language 
usage that software agents simply don't have.  (And codifying that 
knowledge is just building a different ontology.)    (03)

And using the Web as a resource has the "argumentum ad populum" problem: 
the result is what the most publications, or the most visited 
publications, provide, not necessarily what the most reputable 
publications provide.  (I wouldn't want an ontology for medieval 
weaponry to be based on World of Warcraft, but I might well get just that.)    (04)

-Ed    (05)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (06)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (07)

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