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

To: <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: <matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2008 15:33:39 -0000
Message-id: <808637A57BC3454FA660801A3995FA8F06A2CFD1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Pat,    (01)

> John, 
>   Thanks for your detailed clarification.  I think we do 
> still have some
> disagreements.
>    First, I agree with your comments about the difference 
> between dictionary
> and mathematical definitions.  I also believe that many of 
> the definitions
> used in Longman would not be adequate to specify the meanings 
> of terms to
> the required level of detail.  But my own tests suggest that 
> the same set of
> words would do that job, possibly needing a little additional
> supplementation (as in the case of 'dimension' mentioned 
> earlier).  But I do
> not believe that the meanings of terms as specified in an 
> ontology follow
> the mathematical method of creating mathematical concepts.  
> In most cases,
> we can only specify necessary conditions for membership in a 
> type.  There is
> simply no way to reduce the meanings to some very small set 
> of primitives.
> I don't know what the number is, but I feel that the number 
> of necessary
> primitives is an intensely important question to answer if we 
> are ever to
> put the study of computational ontology on a scientific 
> basis.  You (and
> others) may well not agree with this.  I think that the 
> difference between
> us may hinge very much on the degree of accuracy that we 
> consider necessary
> for interoperability.  I am focused on the needs of mission-critical
> applications where the machines will be making important decisions
> automatically - where very high accuracy is required.  I am 
> not sure what
> applications you have worked on for which analogical 
> reasoning is adequate.
> Searching for information, where people are presented with a list of
> possibly relevant documents and they make the final relevance 
> judgment, does
> not require high accuracy - though higher accuracy is better.
> > PC> My point is that it is an important enough issue to warrant
> >  > the effort required to discover that number -- a project 
> adequately
> >  > funded to support at least 50 people half time for a couple of
> > years.
> > 
> > But I don't believe that there is any number to be "discovered".
> > If somebody set out to do the project with 10 primitives, they
> > could probably succeed.  But then somebody else could add one more
> > axiom and reduce the number of primitives to 9.  And somebody else
> > would add 8 more axioms and reduce the number of primitives to 1.
> > 
> > If you completed such a project, it would be pointless, since it
> > wouldn't prove anything.
> >
>    Well, if we found that 6000 basic concept representations 
> are necessary
> and adequate to specify the meanings of the 100,000+ terms in 
> WordNet, it
> would prove that those who believe there is no such thing as 
> a 'Conceptual
> Defining Vocabulary' are wrong, and may be pursuing 
> alternatives that are
> less effective at achieving interoperability.     (02)

MW: No it would not. From any well chosen set of 6000 classes I would
be very dissappointed if you could not generate 100,000 useful derived
classes from them. That is quite different from 6000 classes being
sufficient to derive ANY other class that you might be interested in.    (03)

> It would also 
> provide a means
> of enabling accurate interoperability among a very diverse set of
> ontology-based applications. If it turns out that that number 
> can be reduced
> by further analysis to 4000, so much the better.    (04)

MW: That would imply that some of the 6000 were not in fact primitive
and could be defined by the 4000. Or else you do not understand what
you are doing.    (05)

MW: I would love it if you were right, but I've flirted with the ideas
you are propounding and easily managed to convince myself that there is
no modest set of classes from which all others can be derived.    (06)

MW: Just in process equipment types (like centrifugal pump) we have
more than 30,000 and counting, and we are deriving those things that
we can. Yet this is a small part of the universe.    (07)

Regards    (08)

Matthew West
Reference Data Architecture and Standards Manager
Shell International Petroleum Company Limited
Registered in England and Wales
Registered number: 621148
Registered office: Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA, United Kingdom    (09)

Tel: +44 20 7934 4490 Mobile: +44 7796 336538
Email: matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx
http://www.matthew-west.org.uk/    (010)

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