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Re: [ontolog-forum] what is open ontology?

To: Wacek Kusnierczyk <Waclaw.Marcin.Kusnierczyk@xxxxxxxxxxx>, "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 15:53:25 -0500
Message-id: <p06230909c437f2d36407@[]>
At 10:00 PM +0200 4/25/08, Wacek Kusnierczyk wrote:
>John F. Sowa wrote:
>>  Pat,
>>  I would claim that an ontology could be open in the
>>  same sense that programs can be open.
>>  PH> I don't think it makes sense to refer to an ontology
>>   > as being open (or not).
>>  Although an ontology is not likely to be compiled to
>>  executable machine code, it can be converted to internal
>>  representations that are humanly unreadable.  For example,
>>  some would regard OWL as having that property.  But OWL can
>>  be translated back to more readable notations, if desired.
>>  However, anyone who wanted to keep the knowledge representation
>>  proprietary -- including the ontology, axioms, etc. -- could
>>  certainly do so by compiling them to some proprietary form.
>>  There could be many reasons for doing such a compilation.
>>  RDF and OWL, for example, are extremely verbose, and many
>>  systems compile them to more efficient forms for processing.
>>  If those internal forms are kept proprietary, the effect
>>  would be to keep the ontology as "closed" as any program.
>There is also the issue of what is to be understood as 'source'.  An
>ontology in, e.g., OWL can be considered as the result of a compilation
>from sources such as experimental evidence or prior expert knowledge.    (01)

Only in a very stretched analogy with the 
technical sense of 'compile' in CS. In your 
sense, the source code of a program might be said 
to be 'compiled' from the programmer's 
understanding of the subject-matter or domain in 
which the program is intended to operate. But 
that isn't the sense of 'compile' which 
distinguishes source code from executable binary, 
and which makes the 'open source' notion 
intelligible.    (02)

>Now, if you can get (and read) only the OWL encoding of the ontology,
>but not the sources used during the compilation, it is obviously not
>open source even though the final code is accessible.    (03)

With that sense of source, all open source software would be impossible.    (04)

My point is only that ontologies are not 
compiled, and so there is no distinction between 
source code and executable binary which applies 
to them; and it is this distinction which is at 
the heart of the 'open source' software notion. 
Giving you the binary without the source allows 
you to run the program but to do nothing else. 
There is no analogous 'opaque' form of an 
ontology: if you have it at all, then you can 
read it.    (05)

>Contrarily, if 'source' is to mean the final encoding (e.g., an OWL
>file), then all software you can run is open source, since its source (=
>the binaries according to this view) is readable, otherwise you would
>not be able to run it.  So it would not make sense to call any software
>'open source' at all.    (06)

It seems pretty clear to me that OWL is 
analogous, if at all, to the source code language 
of a program. It is a technical notation with a 
precise semantics which is typically written by 
human specialists who require training to use it 
well. One can learn to use it. It is the level at 
which debugging is done, on which editors operate 
and which is input to a processing engine related 
to the formalism (interpreter or compiler for 
program code, inference or query engine for OWL).    (07)

Pat    (08)

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