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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology similarity and accurate communication

To: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2008 20:29:05 -0500
Message-id: <p06230900c3fce093f5cc@[]>
At 7:01 PM -0500 3/11/08, John F. Sowa wrote:
>As I have said many times, I want a barest minimum of axioms at the
>upper levels.  The ideal number is ZERO.  But I'd be content with
>a few is-a axioms and an occasional part-of.
>PH> Ontological differences like that between 4-d temporal ontologies
>>  and continuant/occurrent temporal ontologies are NOT matters of
>>  detail. One CANNOT ignore or bypass these differences by simply
>>  leaving them out and retreating to a weaker ontology which can then
>>  be specialized to give the version one prefers. They really are
>>  inherently, profoundly, INCOMPATIBLE.  Each of them makes assertions
>>  at the very basic level which are simple necessary truths in one
>>  view of the world and are, at the same time, nonsensical and
>>  incoherent in the other view.
>I completely agree.  That is one among many reasons why I don't
>believe that axioms belong at the upper levels of an ontology.    (01)

I guess I don't understand this. All an ontology is, is axioms. What 
does it mean to have zero axioms?    (02)

>My ideal for an upper-level ontology would be the barest minimum
>number of axioms -- and the ideal number is 0.
>For time, the only axiom I would assume is that bigger numbers
>come after smaller numbers and that it's possible to associate
>funny numbering systems such as "2008 03 11 18:58:14" with
>points on a time line    (03)

"Line" implies a total ordering, I presume: that's three axioms already.    (04)

>-- but different locations might have
>different time lines.
>PH> You are living in a dream world in which all reasonable people
>>  will eventually agree....
>Please don't confuse me with Pat C.  I do not believe that any
>of the current schemes is going to achieve any kind of consensus.    (05)

OK, sorry if I misunderstood. You seemed to be agreeing with him.    (06)

>PH> But I would hate to see yet another promising ontological
>>  engineering initiative get lost in the same swamp that has
>>  consumed so many others.
>The points I have been making repeatedly for several years are
>  1. There is no hope of getting agreement on a single universal
>     upper ontology within the lifetime of any subscriber to this list.
>  2. There is no reason to assume that having a single universal
>     upper ontology would solve any practical problems of any kind.
>  3. Even if every implementer agreed on the same universal ontology,
>     there is no reason to assume that any human who interacted with
>     any computer would make the same assumptions that were implemented
>     in that computer system.
>  4. My recommendation is a framework for an ontology *library* that
>     supports a systematic set of relations among ontologies, such
>     as generalization, specialization, etc.  Any message sent from
>     agent A to agent B would include an identifier that specifies
>     what ontology is assumed for the terms in that message.    (07)

That sounds to me rather like the semantic web with named RDF graphs :-).    (08)

>In other words, all the axioms are at the task level, and each
>message sent between systems identifies what ontology is assumed.    (09)

I agree that makes a certain sense, but Im less sanguine than you are 
about being able to neatly express relationships between ontologies. 
Not that such relations are impossible, but I think they will will be 
messier and more tangled, as Mala says in her recent message. Which 
is not necessarily a problem or something to avoid, just something we 
should be ready for.    (010)

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