Dear John, (01)
> Dear Matthew, Pat, and Pat,
> I'd like to comment on various points the three of you have made
> in several different notes, but not necessarily in the same order
> in which they have been stated.
> MW> ... just encouraging an unlimited number of ontologies and
> > saying we will map between them, is perhaps where we are headed
> > at the moment, but it is an expensive direction to take. My best
> > hope at the moment is to encourage convergence onto a limited
> > number of ontologies - say 10 or so. They would have clearly
> > stated foundations where the differences would be known and
> > understood, and mappings could be provided.
> There are several related points:
> 1. I agree that we are headed toward (or already at) a collection
> of many ontologies, which have different foundations.
> 2. My usual response to anyone who suggests a number like "10 or so"
> is that it's an inadequate approximation to infinity and that it
> won't be possible to limit the number in a non-arbitrary way. (02)
MW: I agree that in principle it is infinite, but in practice, when you
look at phylosophical ontology, most of this infinity, at least for
foundations, would not have any support, various of the combinations
of commitments that are possible just do not work well together, whilst
others seem to have a more natural fit, so lets just say that I would be
surprised to find say 1000 foundation ontologies in 10 years time that
were really distinct (but much less surprised to find different ones with
essentially the same foundation). Keeping it to 10 would require merging
existing work at regular intervals as differences were found to be less
important than the similarities and the benefits of interoperability.
I know there are such practical pressures, so I think my pragmatic hope
(not theory) is reasonable.
> 3. But for most applications, the most important ontologies are the
> low-level ones that are often independent of the upper levels. (03)
MW: Not between 3D and 4D. It goes all the way down. I only wish that
were not so. (04)
> For example, an airline schedule has lots of times and places,
> but it is irrelevant whether the upper level uses a 3+1D or 4D
> axiomatization of space and time or how the upper level defines
> objects, people, and events. (05)
MW: No it is not.
> 4. Therefore, I would prefer to put those upper-level foundations
> into independent modules that could be combined in a mix-&-match
> way with various low-level modules. (I'll admit the option for
> a low-level ontology to state a dependency on or incompatibility
> with one or more upper modules.) (06)
MW: Exactly, which will make it incompatible with the others.
> 5. Assuming N upper modules and M lower modules (where N is much
> less than M), this approach would be much less expensive than
> defining N*M complete ontologies. (07)
MW: Desirable, but I fear impractical.
> MW> I am always surprised at just how different (and usually limited)
> > peoples mental models are. I have yet to see two data models of
> > the same application look the same except by cut and paste.
> I strongly agree. But I take that point as an argument against
> Pat C's claim of common mental models and against any claim that
> a small number of global ontologies is possible. (08)
MW: The point I was trying to make is that different peoples mental
models are not the same, so there is no reason why they should easily
agree on an ontology just because they share a common language to
describe their mental models (09)
Reference Data Architecture and Standards Manager
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> PC> The hypothesis of the 'Conceptual Defining Vocabulary' states
> > that it will be possible to solve that problem with a common
> > ontology of agreed basic concepts that are used to specify the
> > meanings of the more specialized concepts in the different
> > models.
> A child by the age of 6 has an excellent grasp of his or her
> native language
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