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Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation Ontology [was Semantic Web shortcomings]

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: standard-upper-ontology@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2008 16:45:57 -0400
Message-id: <48ADD405.5030609@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ron and Pat,    (01)

I don't think we should exclude any reasonable work by any
competent group.  And a well designed FO framework should make
it possible *and* convenient for different groups to collaborate
and harmonize their efforts.  A recommended design principle:    (02)

    If you want people to be virtuous,
    make virtue the path of least resistance.    (03)

One reason why many people have been using RDF(S) and OWL is
that it facilitates collaboration with other groups.  We should
design a framework that can accommodate definitions in those
notations as well as any other logic-based notations.    (04)

RC> Where do these fit in http://sweet.jpl.nasa.gov/ontology/
 > To my untrained eye, they seem to address a lot of the items
 > raised in your point 4.    (05)

I would agree.  But that is only scratching the surface of all
the standards that have been developed.  As Sean B. has pointed
out, STEP has also done a lot of work on related issues.  And
any other ontology efforts, such as Cyc, SUMO, Dolce, BFO, etc.,
should be mappable to the FO hierarchy -- but the people who
developed those ontologies should be the ones to do the mapping.    (06)

PC> If such a project could be funded, it might well serve as a
 > good start for the development of a foundation ontology that is
 > widely accepted.    (07)

We can begin today with all the wind power that is being generated
by all the talk on all these emails.  The SUO group was chartered
by IEEE to develop a standard back in 2000, and the IEEE is still
waiting.  If these ideas get fleshed out with more detail, perhaps
some funding could be made available.  But we need something more
definitive than an email archive.    (08)

PC> How 'lightweight' do you think it has to be?  The size, format,
 > and degree of axiomatization will all be important.  I am inclined
 > to think that the optimal format for a common FO would be to have
 > a version in OWL that is automatically converted into a Common
 > Logic format such as KIF.    (09)

The type hierarchy could be supported by any version of logic that
has monadic predicates and multiple inheritance.  That is the DL
subset that goes back to Aristotle.  That would be a bare minimum
that could be handled with DLs or Formal Concept Analysis (FCA),
and it could be mapped to any version of FOL.    (010)

But KIF is the older notation, which does not support Unicode, URIs,
or full RDF(S) and OWL.  CLIF is the name of the CL-based follow-on
to KIF.    (011)

The STEP notation should also be supported.  It has the expressive
power of FOL, but with its own notation.  It would be important to
define a mapping from STEP to Common Logic.  And it should also be
possible to use a controlled natural language.  SUMO, for example,
has been using a version of controlled English to make their axioms
more readable for humans.  Ideally, we should have a goal of getting
all axioms stated in both controlled English and some more computer
oriented notation.  (And the mapping between the two notations should
be done and/or verified automatically.)    (012)

PC> Provision for rules will be important in order to allow alternative
 > methods of representing concepts (such as representing 'mother' by
 > a relation and/or by a type).  The translation rules will only be
 > executed in a FOL reasoner, but need to be present in every version
 > so that all views will be properly represented.  This raises the issue
 > of how to extract out only the parts one needs for a particular
 > application...    (013)

There has been a long history of using different subsets of logic
in the same application and of extracting a subset from a more
expressive specification.  I discussed that point in the following:    (014)

    Fads and Fallacies about Logic    (015)

PC> In the process, it seems clear that the top levels of WordNet do
 > not conform to an inheritance hierarchy that would work for logical
 > inference....    (016)

A lot of useful material can be extracted from WordNet, but each item
must be checked and verified for consistency.  The top levels are not
the most valuable parts.  I would not worry about undecidability in
doing consistency checks.  If the checking takes too long to complete,
I suggest the refrigerator principle:  "When in doubt, throw it out."    (017)

Anybody who complained that some pet definition was thrown out
would have to prove consistency before it would be accepted.    (018)

PC> The issue remains of where the funding for such a project could
 > come from.  As we know from experience, only a very limited amount
 > of serious time-consuming work will be available without funding,
 > and that only from a few people.    (019)

The first step is to write an initial version of a document that
could evolve into an IEEE standard for the FO.  The much harder
task is to fill out the content that goes into the FO.  But if the
specifications are properly written, it should be possible for each
group that has already produced content to map their content to
the FO hierarchy and to proposed new additions to the hierarchy
where necessary.    (020)

Some funding would be necessary for the coordinating group, but
much of the cost of contributing content could be covered by the
groups that have already produced the content.  Their incentive for
doing the mapping is the enhanced value of their content after it
has been mapped to the FO and correlated with all the other content.    (021)

John    (022)

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