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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 07 Jan 2009 12:04:38 -0500
Message-id: <4964E0A6.9010705@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Folks,    (01)

More comments on the recent notes:    (02)

JFS>> If the federated ontologies are organized in a hierarchy,
 >> I would consider that a reasonable way to start.    (03)

AA> It is. A Top-Bottom Globally Federated Ontology (GFO).
 > I wonder how do you think it should be kicked off?    (04)

In publications and email notes, I discussed the organization of
a family of ontologies as a lattice of theories.  But an infinite
lattice is obviously too big to be implemented. To avoid confusion,
I suggest that we call the collection of *implemented* theories
(ontologies) a *hierarchy*.    (05)

The hierarchy would only only contain a tiny fraction of the
total lattice, but the relations among theories would be the
same:  generalization and specialization define a partial order;
a family of closely related ontologies all have a common
generalization; two ontologies that are inconsistent have the
absurd theory at the bottom as their only common specialization.    (06)

As many people have observed, it is difficult to compute those
relations for any two arbitrary theories.  However, it is much
easier to use those relations for *generating* or *designing*
ontologies.  Whenever you combine two modules (smaller theories),
the larger one is automatically a common specialization.  Whenever
you delete axioms, the new theory is always a generalization.    (07)

I would start the development with a registry that would allow
anyone to register their favorite ontologies.  The relationships
among them would be computed by reviewers and users who do the
work of adapting them for their own purposes and reporting their
studies, observations, calculations, experiences, and results.    (08)

DC> The trick is to find the organization in the US Government
 > that would fund such an effort...    (09)

The initial stage could be kicked off very quickly with a minimum
of effort and expense.  As people begin to use the hierarchy, more
structure and policies could be added to systematize those ways
of using it that have proved to be the most productive.  If and
when it proves to be valuable, more groups would join.  As an
example of a successful collaboration by independent companies
and individuals, see the Eclipse project, http://www.eclipse.org .    (010)

RW> I do not object to government participation as long as there are
 > 99 other organizations with $100,000 worth of skin in the project.    (011)

I suggest Eclipse as a model to emulate.  It started with software
contributed by IBM from a project that had been terminated.  It grew
by collaboration of businesses and individuals, and it continues to
attract open source software from a variety of areas.    (012)

MB> The participants [in the ISO 20022 financial messaging standard]
 > were mostly business subject matter experts. However, some of those
 > experts were used to looking at data in a real time market data feed,
 > so that the value of a variable was as of "now", while other experts
 > were from the back office, where they dealt with the terms that
 > are set up for a security for all time...    (013)

That is true of any field.  Different people for different purposes
view the same or related things from different perspectives.  In any
company, the engineering, manufacturing, sales, financial, legal,
and human resources departments will have very different views,
terminology, and ways of thinking about the same things and events.
The customers and suppliers of that company will have an even more
varied way of talking and thinking about their interactions with
that company and its products and services.    (014)

Those 2000 defining terms in the Longman's dictionary do not map
to primitive predicates in logic.  Instead, they are tokens in
Wittgensteinian language games, and each term has a different
*microsense* in each possible game.  Each department in the
same company will use a different collection of language games
with different microsenses for the same terms.    (015)

In terms of the hierarchy of ontologies, it is possible to have
very underspecified (general) ontologies for common terms that
are shared by different departments.  But those very general
ontologies are specialized in different ways for the microsenses
used in each department.    (016)

For more about these ideas, see the paper I presented at FOIS 2006:    (017)

    A Dynamic Theory of Ontology    (018)

John Sowa    (019)

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