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

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 22:42:33 -0500
Message-id: <p06230907c3ffa00cb0c9@[]>
At 9:46 PM -0500 3/13/08, John F. Sowa wrote:
Dear Matthew,

JFS>> I very, very, very strongly doubt that the choice of a 3D vs
 >> 4D upper ontology would have the slightest effect on the design
 >> of a database for airline schedules, train schedules, and many
 >> similar applications.

MW> It is precisely when you deal with times and places (individuals
 > in general) that you get distinctly different results. I have not
 > modelled the specific examples above, but I have done similar
 > things that are Oil Industry related.

I agree that the interpretation of what a flight "really" is would
be different in a 4D or a 3D ontology, but a low-level fact such
as the following would not change:

    Flight:  American Airlines fl 2916 (on Boeing 767-300)
    Depart:  11:30 AM, San Francisco, CA (SFO)
    Arrive:  07:59 PM, New York, NY (JFK)

Probably not, because both sides would agree this is an event-like thing that can have temporal parts.

The airlines have been storing such information in their databases
for over 40 years without having a detailed ontology about the nature
of places, times, things, and events.  A knowledge base can interpret
that data with 4D axioms while sending and receiving messages about
the data to and from knowledge bases and data bases with very
different upper-level axioms or no such axioms at all.

MW> However, this did remind me of what I thought could be shared
 > in lower level modules, and that is the sort of stuff that says
 > things like "centrifugal pumps have impellers as parts". These
 > kinds of statements at a class level I think it may be possible
 > to merge with either a 3D or 4D foundation. When you merge it
 > with a 3D foundation you allow classes to change their membership
 > over time, when you merge it with 4D ontollogies they become
 > extensional.

I agree.  Note that AA 2916 uses a B767-300 airplane, but nothing
in that data depends on the nature of any airplane of any kind.

Well, one framework might express this by saying that the relevant temporal part of the airplane is part of the flight. The other framework would find this incoherent. An ontology has to choose some way to express this.

The only relevant information about the type B767-300 is the
number of parts of type Seat and their locations in the aircraft.

For the passengers and booking agents, yes; but for scheduling maintenance other things, including the history of this particular airplane, become highly relevant. And for the pilots to submit a flight plan before take-off, something has to do a lot of reasoning about liquids and windspeeds and rates of consumption.

Two computers can interoperate on airline reservations if they
agree on that level.  Their upper ontologies are irrelevant.

MW> It is not clear to me for how much stuff this would work, but
 > I do think it is worth pursuing to see where the boundaries lie.

My claim is that interoperability is always at the message level
for agents of any kind -- computer or human.  There is no need
to align their global ontologies.

The distinction between sharing data and sharing ontologies isn't clear-cut. But I agree, this notion of keeping ontologies local is attractive. Either way, though, there has to be some kind of global agreement on how to format the shared information. Whether one calls this 'ontology' or not isn't too important, seems to me.


If anyone has any evidence to the contrary, I would love to see it.


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