Tuesday, January 06, 2009 4:16 PM, John wrote:
"I don't believe that any proposed system should be adopted as a standard
until *after* there has been a considerable amount
of experience in using and testing it on a wide range of practical
applications. Instead of "deliberate planning",
we need extensive testing, comparison, and evaluation of proposed
alternatives on major applications. (01)
It is hard to argue with an established experimental method of trial and
error. But let me remind that there are two fundamental facts about humans.
First, additionally to sense organs, we are all endowed by intelligent
sense, intellectual intuition, the eye of the mind, to grasp an intellectual
entity of all increasing complexity, an idea, a theory, a schema, a model,
or an ontology. Another fundamental fact is that "we learn to do things by
doing things", we learn to argue by arguing, to reason by performing
reasoning, to read by reading, to construct by constructing. So we learn to
grasp things by exploring things, both mentally and experimentally, by
stating a problem, then gather data, construct a hypothesis, then test,
match, refute, or select. But always we first formulate a theory, and then
match or put to the test it, the reason why humans belong to the class of
Thus to build an ontology standard, we need start constructing it by
formulating and selecting the most viable ideas about the standard.
As an example, i present for consideration an idea which appeared most
valuable in Ontopaedia and particularly in my recent recent research on a
Global Knowledge and Research Space: the European Research Area. It is the
concepts of "ontology federation", "federal union", "federated ontology
system", "federated global schema", and 'federated ontology architecture".
The notion proved its viability in politics as a federal form of government,
where power is divided between a central authority and regional authorities.
Also, you better know, it was successfully applied in the database theory
and practice, as "a federated architecture for database systems" or "a
federated architecture for information management".
Alike with the power, knowledge is divided between a central ontology and
regional ontologies. Then a federation ontology consists of a single central
ontology (maintaining the global schema, the semantics, the topology, the
entry of new ontologies) and a multitude of component ontologies with own
local schemas, being autonomous, heterogeneous, distributed, but members of
the federation. There are technical issues, such as federated mechanism,
semantic management, schemas integration and coordination, search,
information retrieval and query processing, etc.
But what is essential now to decide on the viability of the concept of
Federated Ontology System, which, to my experience, looks more promising
than any nonfederated ontology systems, either unitary or centralized or
loose and unconnected, which sorts currently prevail and propagate as
pandemic on the WWW. (02)
----- Original Message -----
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 4:16 PM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Next steps in using ontologies as standards (04)
> I have some concerns about such pronouncements, which sound good
> on the surface:
> > I hold with Ravi that it is a great undertaking. Though to
> > become such, the initiative needs deliberate planning...
> > the Forum has time to debate and decide on a principal matter:
> > which general world model is most fitting to science, arts,
> > technology, commerce and industry, to conclude if "Standard
> > Ontology: a single malt or blended".
> The standards that have proved to be the most valuable in practice
> have been based on successful technologies that many independent
> groups have adopted, used, developed, and extended on major
> applications. In most cases, those standards started with a
> successful implementation (e.g., SQL or HTML), polished up the
> rough edges, made it more systematic, and added new features.
> About 20 years ago, some people working on standards got the idea
> that it would be good for the standards organizations to take a
> "proactive" stance in developing and promoting cleaner, more
> elegant systems that take advantage of the latest theories and
> practices. But the results have been decidedly "mixed".
> I once thought that "proactive standards" seemed promising,
> but after observing many attempts, I have very serious doubts.
> Among the problems with proactive standards is that they are
> inevitably designed by committees. The basic strength *and*
> weakness of a committee is the diversity of people with
> different backgrounds, views, and requirements. That gives
> them great strength in *evaluating* proposals from many
> different points of view. But it also means that committees
> inevitably have "too many cooks" who "spoil the broth" when
> they try to do the design.
> I don't believe that any proposed system should be adopted as
> a standard until *after* there has been a considerable amount
> of experience in using and testing it on a wide range of
> practical applications. Instead of "deliberate planning",
> we need extensive testing, comparison, and evaluation of
> proposed alternatives on major applications.
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