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

To: <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: <matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2008 12:23:18 -0000
Message-id: <808637A57BC3454FA660801A3995FA8F06A2D11A@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear John,    (01)

> Dear Matthew and Pat,
> There are certainly many descriptions of the same situation or
> scene that are totally independent, and no mappings between them
> are possible.  One example would be an aesthetic appreciation of
> "the purple mountains' majesty" and a geological description
> of the rock formations.    (02)

MW: I would want to be a bit more specific. For any unambiguous
description of some situation, it is possible to define a
mapping into a *good* integating ontology, effectively creating
a copy in the terms and paradigm of the integrating ontology.
This enables information from different sources and perhaps
different or no foundation ontology to be brought together, so
that they can be reasoned over or queried as a whole. A lot of
Business Information systems aim to do just this.    (03)

MW: If you can't do this, you need to fix your upper ontology.
> But there are many purely factual observations, which people make
> and state without any thought to their ontological underpinnings:
>     Bob woke up at 7:30, took a shower and shaved, got dressed,
>     drove to the train station, bought coffee, a doughnut, and
>     a newspaper, and got on the train.
> All the words in that sentence would be familiar hto a child,
> who could understand it without making any assumptions that are
> incompatible with any of the ontologies we have been discussing.    (04)

MW: Yes, I'm sure this could be mapped into either a 3D of 4D
> PH> What it illustrates is that there are important cases where
>  > mappings exist between descriptions. But that is a much more
>  > modest claim than yours here, which is that if they both describe
>  > the same object or situation then there must be a mapping between
>  > them: in other words, that truly incompatible descriptions of a
>  > single reality are impossible.    (05)

MW: I would want to make the "no magic" caveat here. You can't map
missing information (though you might want to identify implicit
information and map that).
> Since there are truly incompatible ontologies, any statements
> that depend on the differences between those ontologies would be
> incompatible.      (06)

MW: Yes, if you want to hold incompatible ontologies in the same 
space, you have to hold incompatible statements twice, in each
paradigm, and with a mapping between them so you know what is
equivalent to what, so that for instance you don't count things 
twice.    (07)

> There are also statements such as the aesthetic
> and geological descriptions, which are completely independent
> (and therefore incapable of contradicting one another).  But I
> would like to see examples of factually correct, but inconsistent
> descriptions of the same scene or situation that were written by
> competent reporters who were untutored in philosophy or ontology.
> MW> I seem to recall that Barwise et al had put together a pretty good
>  > argument in his Information Flow book for pretty much just this.
>  > Did I misread this, or do you find some fault with his argument
>  > (in which case details please)?
> I read that book some time ago, and I don't recall the details.
> But I believe the examples they used were similar to the factual
> examples I described:  Bob's morning routine, airline schedules,
> or scenes and situations that might be described by competent
> reporters who were trying to tell the basic facts to readers
> who were not philosophers or knowledge engineers.
> But I will grant the following point:  for many kinds of detailed
> reasoning (as in typical knowledge-based systems) various ontological
> distinctions are important.  And the 4D ontology, by the way, is one
> that I believe has many important advantages for such reasoning.    (08)

MW: Indeed. I have found it to be more rigorous (less wiggle room)
and more expressive.    (09)

Regards    (010)

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    (011)

Tel: +44 20 7934 4490 Mobile: +44 7796 336538
Email: matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx
http://www.matthew-west.org.uk/    (012)

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