[Top] [All Lists]

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 15:45:05 -0500
Message-id: <49651451.3060707@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat,    (01)

In logic, mathematics, science, and engineering, there are no
primitives, and there is no need or use for primitives.    (02)

PC> The only way to prove or disprove such assertions is to try
 > to find the conceptual primitives that can combine to create
 > satisfactory descriptions of these alternative theories.    (03)

There is no place to look for primitives, because they don't exist.    (04)

Just consider one of the simplest equations used in physics:    (05)

    F=ma    (06)

On the surface, one might think that the force F is being defined
in terms of the mass m times the acceleration a.  But that is an
illusion.  Exactly the same equation could be written    (07)

    m=a/F  or  a=m/F    (08)

In fact, none of the three terms are primitives.  Each of them could
be characterized by the methods used to measure F, m, or a.  But any
of those methods are just useful techniques with a given technology.    (09)

As experimental methods improve, new methods for measuring force,
mass, or acceleration are being invented constantly.  But whatever
the methods of measurement, the relationship F=ma relates any one
to the other two without any assumptions about primitives.    (010)

PC> ... there are theories with mutually inconsistent models, and
 > these can be described using a common vocabulary of primitive
 > concepts.    (011)

The Newtonian and Einsteinian theories have *zero* common primitives.
It is true that they use many of the same words, such as space, time,
mass, etc.  But they relate them by theories that are inconsistent.
The English words 'space', 'time', and 'mass' map to completely
different predicates in a Newtonian ontology and an Einsteinian
ontology.  And neither the words nor the predicates are "primitive".    (012)

PC> Cheng-ming Guo in Wilks's group did a study of the Longman defining
 > vocabulary and concluded that as few as 1433 words (a subset of the
 > published defining vocabulary) representing 3280 senses were required
 > to define the remaining Longman defining vocabulary.    (013)

That is a study of *words*, not of the logical predicates used in
formal theories.  Longman's words 'space' and 'time' are used in vague
senses that do not distinguish between Newton's theory, Einstein's
special relativity, Einstein's general relativity, or any of the more
recent theories about string theory and other weirder variations.    (014)

Each of those theories is inconsistent with the others, although
they all have formal terms that map to the same English words.
And *none* of the words or the formal predicates are primitive
in a sense that could be considered "common" to multiple theories.    (015)

I completely agree with the comments that Pat Hayes made, and I urge
you to take them seriously:    (016)

    That is the crucial point:  your overriding assumption that all
    conceptual conflicts can be resolved by moving to something 'more
    primitive' is just plain false. They can't all be resolved that way.
    If they could have been, the history of science would have been a
    lot less rocky and controversial that it in fact was.    (017)

    There is a basic fact of ontology engineering that everyone needs
    to understand:  the fact that two people are using the same formalism
    and describing the same real-world phenomenon does not guarantee that
    they will produce consistent ontologies.    (018)

    You keep saying this [there exists a basic set of primitives],
    but there is not a shred of evidence to support it, and all the
    accumulated wisdom of literature and science strongly suggests
    the opposite.  There are no "primitive" concepts.  Get used to it.    (019)

PC> Can you agree that this is an open question worth investigating...    (020)

As I said, I have no objection to anybody investigating anything
that they want to investigate.  But I want to emphasize that your
hypothesis about primitives is a research hypothesis for which
any evidence is scanty or nonexistent, and it would not be suitable
for supporting any proposed standard for practical applications.    (021)

John    (022)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (023)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>