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Re: [ontolog-forum] Data Models v. Ontologies (again)

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 19:53:01 -0400
Message-id: <483DF05D.1020308@xxxxxxxx>
John F. Sowa wrote:    (01)

> SB> Also, the yardstick of whether something is a scientific
>  > theory is whether it makes testable predictions, not whether
>  > it has, say, a mathematical basis.
> I strongly agree with that definition.  It includes a much
> broader range of work that has traditionally been called
> science.  And that criterion includes the knowledge required
> to build medieval cathedrals or samurai swords.      (02)

Indeed, but it also seems to include the late Jeanne Dixon (a published 
astrologer) as a propounder of scientific theories.  I think you mean to 
at least require that most of the tests validate the predictions.  Her 
annual predictions were quite testable by the following New Year; it is 
just that most of them were wrong.    (03)

OTOH, we cannot call a theory something else when sufficient 
observations prove it to be weak or misguided.  The phlogiston theory 
was indeed a theory; it was just wrong.    (04)

> LY> Engineering results in consistent scalable production, which
>  > so called 'knowledge engineering' does not. And it will not until
>  > it applies theories... in the above context theory does not mean
>  > formal set of axioms, not does it mean some good way to predict
>  > the outcome. Here it means !!!unifying!!! paradigm, like theory
>  > of evolution. This is why I used plural.    (05)

So did the medieval master builders apply some unifying paradigm like 
the theory of evolution?  No.  Did they get consistent scalable 
production?  Yes, by the hundreds!  Were they engineers?    (06)

> I mostly agree.  But I also believe that there are suitable ways
> of analyzing a large body of knowledge in a productive manner.
> To avoid arguments about philosophy, I'll mention lexicography.
> The editors of large, unabridged dictionaries have developed
> systematic methodologies.      (07)

So is every systematic methodology a "theory"?  And does the 
lexicographic art really result in "consistent scalable production"? 
Are the OED and Larousse and Cassells and Merriam-Webster and CSPeirce 
methodologies all the same in principle?  Is lexicography therefore a 
form of "engineering"?    (08)

Cookbooks produce consistent scalable production, too.  And cooking 
definitely involves systematic methodology.  And carpentry and 
ice-skating and teaching piano.  And those methods do produce consistent 
  production, and at least cooking and carpentry produce scalable 
production.    (09)

I'm sorry guys, but I think this is "first star to the right and 
straight on till morning".    (010)

I would say knowledge engineering *is* paradigmatic -- in the hands of 
masters, it is supported by a methodology for identifying concepts and 
characterizations and properties, refining the notions to axioms, and 
validating the axioms with the stakeholders.  And it is predictable in 
the sense that an arbitrary question asked of the reasoning automaton 
will produce an answer that is consistent with the observed "facts" and 
the input beliefs of the stakeholders.  And like other engineering 
trades, failures to meet that test are an indication of poor product and 
poor engineering discipline.    (011)

Len is right that there is no "unifying field theory" of all knowledge, 
or even of all knowledge relevant to a given problem space.  But there 
is a big difference between having a complete master theory and having 
an engineering methodology that produces consistent results.    (012)

As I pointed out to John A, our view of "engineering" is spoiled rotten 
by two centuries of great leap forward in scientific understanding of 
the physical world.  Engineers of the past made do with method, 
experience, collective observation, limited mathematics and largely 
erroneous physical theory.  The knowledge engineer of 2008 is in the 
shoes of the structural engineer of 1500.  So while Len is out looking 
for Isaac Newton, the rest of us will just have to build the early 21st 
century cathedrals.    (013)

-Ed    (014)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (015)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (016)

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