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Re: [ontolog-forum] Next steps in using ontologies as standards

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2009 13:22:49 -0600
Message-id: <A9634064-3C78-4FEB-93F7-7A23F617DA33@xxxxxxxx>
> Chris -
>   OK, I don't want to dilute the meanings of well-accepted terms, so
> perhaps you have a suggestion (I'll try to think of another compact  
> phrase,
> but one escapes me right now).
> I want to say that, for a foundation ontology to have the capability  
> to logically represent anything that a person might say (assuming  
> that 'anything' is coherent), it has to have both an adequately  
> expressive syntax (minimum FOL) and a sufficiently large inventory  
> of primitive concepts to create the logical representation. A  
> 'primitive' concept is a concept that cannot be ontologically  
> represented by use of ontology elements already in the foundation  
> ontology. (This gets into the question of what it means to represent  
> a meaning, but for a start we can just say that what is good enough  
> to get correct results in all tested applications is an adequate  
> representation of the meaning).
> If we can't say that the FO "has the expressive power of a human  
> language" would you have an alternative compact but comprehensible  
> way of saying that?  "descriptive power"?    (01)

That expression is certainly in use, sometimes as a synonym for  
"expressive power", but it seems to me (though I could be wrong) that  
it is far less widely used than "expressive power" and, moreover, that  
it does not have as fixed and deeply entrenched a meaning.  Seems to  
me it's a reasonable choice so long as its intended (informal) meaning  
is made clear.    (02)

> I would like to use "definitional power" but there are some that  
> prefer to reserve "definition" to its necessary and sufficient  
> meaning - better to avoid that issue.    (03)

Yes, misuses and misunderstandings of "definition" and its cognates  
are rampant.    (04)

-chris    (05)

>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
>> bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Christopher Menzel
>> Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 1:08 PM
>> To: [ontolog-forum]
>> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Next steps in using ontologies as
>> standards
>> On Jan 6, 2009, at 11:03 AM, Patrick Cassidy wrote:
>>> The problem with letting the "market" determine standards is that  
>>> there has to be an effective "market", with multiple candidates,  
>>> and multiple users, for it to work. In the case of a foundation  
>>> ontology, there have been publicly available candidates for over 6  
>>> years, but as yet there are few users (applications, anyone?) and  
>>> nothing remotely resembling a "market" has developed. This should  
>>> give us a clue that we are dealing with a technology that is not  
>>> simplistically analogous to the ones we are accustomed to.  On  
>>> reflection this should not be terribly surprising -- a proper  
>>> foundation ontology will have the content and expressive power of  
>>> a human language,
>> I'm guessing that what you have in mind here is simply that the  
>> language of a foundational ontology should enable us to give  
>> adequate formal expression (in a sense that itself needs  
>> clarification) to anything we can say in a natural language. Sure  
>> thing. That said, I think it is best to avoid using terms like  
>> "expressive power" that have clear mathematical meanings to convey  
>> informal ideas. This is admittedly a pet peeve of mine, but one  
>> that I think is reasonable, as the use of such terms easily leads  
>> to confusion (since their meanings in informal contexts are  
>> inevitably different than their formal meanings). And, although I  
>> do not believe it is Patrick's intent here, all too often such  
>> terms are used rhetorically to suggest a greater degree of clarity  
>> and rigor than is warranted.
>>> and nothing like it has been actually developed **and widely  
>>> used** up to now (WordNet is not an ontology in that sense).
>> Or any other, I'd say. ;-)
>> -chris    (06)

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