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Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation ontology [was How not to write specificat

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: standard-upper-ontology@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2008 23:27:16 -0400
Message-id: <48AE3214.1040200@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Mike,    (01)

I agree that it's important not to scare people:    (02)

MB> This is in line with trying to come up with a way of
 > presenting business "facts and things" in a way that does
 > not scare away business people.    (03)

Or better, it's important to present the material in a way that
is intelligible to the domain experts, who may know a great deal
about the subject matter, but not about arcane notations.    (04)

That is one reason why I have emphasized the need to use controlled
natural languages for specifying ontologies.  If you click on any
of the headings under the phrase "Global terms" at the bottom of
your web site,    (05)

    http://www.hypercube.co.uk/edmcouncil/    (06)

you will notice a lot of English words and phrases.  But such
words and phrases are comments that are ignored by the software.
With minor modifications, those words and phrases could be written
in controlled English that a computer can map to a formal notation,
such as Common Logic.    (07)

For some discussion of controlled English with examples of
medical "English", as written by a physician, and its mapping
to controlled English (by a human editor) and then by computer
to Common Logic, see the following slides:    (08)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/cl_sowa.pdf    (09)

See slide 5 for a diagram that shows the role of Common Logic
(with the three dialects CLIF, CGIF, and XCL) as an intermediate
notation between controlled English and a variety of computer
oriented notations, including RDF and OWL.  Adam Pease has been
using controlled English as a supplement to the SUMO axioms.    (010)

Slide 8 is a cautionary note that makes the point that writing
controlled English requires some training.  But anyone who can
read English and is familiar with the subject matter can read
controlled English about that subject.    (011)

Slide 15 shows some so-called "English" written by a physician.
The next few slides show a systematic translation of that text
by a human editor (namely, me) and the CLIF translation.    (012)

Slide 21 shows the complete version written in controlled English,
Slide 22 shows the complete CLIF translation, and Slide 23 shows
the equivalent translation in CGIF.  Note that each of them fits
on a single slide.  Another person had used OWL to express that
same medical English, but the results took many, many pages,
and even a graphical display would not be humanly readable.    (013)

The remaining slides discuss various issues, and Slide 28 has
URLs for further reading.  One of the pointers is to the ACE
web site, which has a free, open source, downloadable version
of controlled English.    (014)

I believe that we should make controlled English a requirement
for the Foundation Ontology:    (015)

  1. Every formal axiom, rule, or definition should be accompanied
     by an equivalent statement in some version of controlled English.    (016)

  2. The formal statement and the controlled English statement should
     be automatically checked for equivalence.  That could be done
     either by automatically translating the controlled English
     to the formalism or by using a suitable theorem prover.    (017)

  3. The metalanguage commentary about the formal specification
     should also be written in controlled English.    (018)

These requirements would enable domain experts to read specifications
and check whether they really correspond to what they had told the
knowledge engineer (or whoever had written the spec's).    (019)

John Sowa    (020)

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