This mail is publicly posted to a distribution list as part of a process of
public discussion, any automatically generated statements to the contrary
non-withstanding. It is the opinion of the author, and does not represent an
official company view. (01)
So, ontology is just data modelling with AI gubbins? So why bother? (02)
If I might put a different argument, based on Aristotle (or, more exactly,
based on my understanding of a modern understanding of Thomas Aquinas on
Aristotle). If one talks about something's attributes (or properties,
observables or what ever word game you like), one can divide them into those
which are substantial and those which are accidental. Fido's dogginess is
unchanged by his accidental attributes - his stance (standing, sitting), colour
(brown, spotty) etc, however, dogginess does depend on his 'substantial'
attributes, such as breathing, motion, etc (if not breathing, he would be an
inanimate blob, if not able to move, he would be a plant (see De Anima)). (03)
An ontology depends on substantial attributes to be able to classify the
subject as being a "this" in the ontology. Fido breaths and moves so he his not
a mineral or a plant. He has lungs and hair, so is a mammal (not an insect or a
fish), etc. (04)
A data model starts by assuming that we have already identified what it is we
are talking about, and then goes on to collect the accidental attributes
Dog[name="Fido", weight="10 Kg", etc]. (05)
This means the obligation on an ontology developer is to describe the
classification procedure that is used to identify where things fit in the
ontology, and particularly the attributes than need to be observed to classify
it correctly. (In practice, "context" is used to select a tractable domain,
such as Pizza). The data modeller should go on to describe all the other
attributes that are germane to the problem. These need not be different people.
It is merely a matter of disagreement whether a Hawaiian pizza is substantially
different to a Four Seasons, or whether is just a matter of accidental
My impression is that much of what is put into OWL is data modelling.
Personally, if data modelling is the focus, I'd rather not do it in OWL, as the
pictures are not that informative. (07)
If I don't respond to the brickbats from the various ontology camps by
tomorrow, don't hold your breath, since I'll be on holiday with people trying
to hit me with real sticks (quarterstaff training). Its less stressful. (08)
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Pat Hayes
> Sent: 30 April 2008 23:09
> To: "Cati Martínez"
> Cc: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology vs OWL implementation
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> At 8:21 PM +0200 4/30/08, Cati Martínez wrote:
> >I'm new in the Ontology world, and maybe it has been already
> >I'm asking me the question if everything implemented in the OWL
> >language can be considered an Ontology. I guess that it's
> not so, but
> >it is difficult for me to say when we can say that it is or not.
> The term 'ontology' has no definition precise enough to
> answer that question. Myself, I'd be inclined to say yes,
> anything in OWL is an ontology. Certainly one would not
> expect any OWL tool or engine to start distinguishing
> between 'real ontology OWL' and 'mere OWL'.
> >I'm modelling with OWL some information structure, so OWL is used to
> >define the components and relations to these components that compose
> >this concrete information structure.
> Sounds like an ontology to me, on just about anyone's
> definition. Why are you in doubt?
> >Could it be considered an
> >Ontology, or only a set of constraints on a data structure?
> It can be both. A set of constraints in the form of an
> ontology. One cautionary note, however: to interpret OWL as a
> constraint is likely going beyond the strict OWL spec. Which
> is fine, I hasten to add, but it might get you into
> unproductive debates about whether your use of OWL is a true
> 'ontological' use of OWL, etc.
> Pat Hayes
> >Thank you. Regards
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