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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: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 23:09:31 -0500
Message-id: <496C13FB.90902@xxxxxxxxxxx>
John G, Elisa, Ron,    (01)

JG> I ask because I'm not sure why this group is devoting time
 > discussing design of a system, when the interested parties
 > might instead agree on basic goals, pick a system, and start
 > work?  Or else I am missing something.    (02)

The critical issue is to *relate* different ontologies or the
modules from which ontologies can be built to one another and
to provide a systematic framework for evaluating them.  There
are many different ontologies that people can pick, but it is
desirable to have a framework for showing how they are related.    (03)

It is also necessary to include reviews, evaluations, and
comments by actual users of any ontology.    (04)

EK> ... we have customers who want to ensure that certain
 > ontologies (even "open source" ontologies) that they elect to
 > depend on are developed and managed in processes similar to
 > those of typical standards bodies...
 > The more important issue I think is one of stewardship --
 > irrespective of where ontologies "reside" from a linked data
 > perspective, one would hope that there is a community of interest
 > that is responsible for evolving and managing that ontology in
 > a way that others can depend on.    (05)

That is essential for anything that businesses are going to
adopt for any mission critical applications.    (06)

For relating ontologies and modules, there is no need to "design"
a system, since there is (and always has been) a natural system
for relating theories:  it's called the Lindenbaum lattice, which
shows how theories are related to one another as specializations,
generalizations, or siblings.    (07)

Whenever two or more modules are combined to form a larger theory,
the result is always a common specialization of the starting modules.
Any deletion of an axiom from a theory makes it more generalized;
any addition of a nonredundant axiom makes it more specialized.
For a brief summary of the lattice of theories and its application,
see Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the following paper:    (08)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/logic/theories.htm    (09)

Since the complete lattice of all conceivable theories is infinite,
there are many more than anyone would ever document or implement.
Therefore, I suggest the term 'hierarchy of theories' for those
that have been documented in the registry.    (010)

As far as storing the theories, we need something more than
a list of links to ontologies scattered across the WWW:    (011)

  1. Links to web sites have a notoriously short lifetime, and the
     owners of any given site tend to change or move the contents
     of any page at unpredictable, usually inconvenient times.
     Furthermore, the reviews and evaluations should be linked
     to and from the ontologies.    (012)

  2. We need policies for version control, reviewing, evaluating,
     testing, relating, and commenting on ontologies.  The policies
     should also standardize the required metadata for each
     contributed ontology, the licensing information, etc.    (013)

  3. The metadata, comments, reviews, and evaluations should be
     linked to and from the ontologies, but controls are needed
     to prevent unauthorized modification or deletion of anything.    (014)

  4. The repository may be virtual, but the methods of version
     control should ensure that all previous versions of any
     contributed ontology (and metadata) are available under
     their original URIs, independently of where they may be
     physically stored.    (015)

RW> If someone already has an open repository where the metadata
 > about an ontology can be uploaded by anyone who wants to and the
 > community can post comments and create links between ontologies,
 > then lets all support that.    (016)

There are many good resources available on the WWW, but I am not
aware of anything that comes close to meeting the above criteria
for maintaining, evaluating, relating, and organizing an open-ended
and growing collection of ontologies.  If anyone knows of any such
things, please let us know.    (017)

John Sowa    (018)

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