[Top] [All Lists]

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

To: "Patrick Cassidy" <pat@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "Sean Barker" <sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 18:38:10 -0000
Message-id: <OOEEJGAPCAJOKOFFPHLHCEAECAAA.sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat    (01)

        I was not simply asserting an opinion, I was providing a rationale for 
it.    (02)

        I'm sure we would agree that where one party partitions a concept into 
four subconcepts, and another into five, there is no logical way to map the 
between the two, at least on the basis of the identity of the subconcepts. You 
seem to be saying "ah yes, but, then at least the concept we had in common is 
the primitive". However, my claim is that that concept is itself is the result 
of an arbitary partition of something more primitive, all the way back until we 
come to the undifferented universe, and that there are good reasons for 
thinking this is true.    (03)

        Your approach to this problem reminds me of a Stanislav Lem story, 
which starts with the assertion that if we can think of dragons, then they 
could possibly exist, and if they could possibly exist, then they probably 
exist (range of zero to one). And if they probably exist, all one has to do to 
make them exist ism to increase the probability until they actually exist. In 
which case someone has to fight them to protect the maidens. What you are 
proposing is, as a means of building useful systems, the slowest and most 
painful route possible.     (04)

        Which is why my advice is to build well focussed ontologies with people 
who you can trust to make sure they mean the same thing as you, and to steal as 
many good ideas from other ontologies as possible. Once you get those working 
(I mean by the harsh judgement of interchanging information) then you can look 
at interoperation with other ontologies in areas that you care about. And the 
first step there is to try to discover whether they mean what they say they 
mean.    (05)

Sean    (06)

-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick Cassidy [mailto:pat@xxxxxxxxx]
Sent: 07 January 2009 20:12
To: sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: RE: [ontolog-forum] Fw: Next steps in using ontologies as
standards    (07)

  Comments interleaved below.    (08)

Patrick Cassidy
cell: 908-565-4053
cassidy@xxxxxxxxx    (09)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 1:31 PM
> To: 
> Cc: cassidy@xxxxxxxxx
> Subject: FW: [ontolog-forum] Fw: Next steps in using ontologies as
> standards
> Pat,
>       My company does invest significantly in semantic standards, and
> has done for over twenty years. I can see that it might possible to
> translate the standards we use into an ontology language, though I
> have
> doubts that such a translation would be an ontology. I can see some
> sense in John's approach of integrating those ontologies into a
> lattice
> of ontologies, and that there may be a business case for doing that,
> although I think we could do most of what we want using the
> Entity-Relationship models we already have. However, I am very
> unlikely
> to recommend that the company invest in developing an upper ontology.
>       Firstly - and I am possibly with Matthew on this - I do not
> think there is a set of primitive concepts.    (010)

[[PC]] Everyone is entitled to his/her gut feelings, but I respectfully suggest 
that this question is important enough for us to construct a project that 
properly investigates it in the context of ontology and reasoning, rather than 
(IMHO disastrously) just assuming an answer and never trying.    (011)

> Rather, there are many
> alternate ways of talking about the world which are constructed on the
> basis of arbitrary abstractions - if they were not arbitrary, then we
> could agree on a set of primitives. This is not to say that the
> physical
> world is indefinite, but that our process of abstraction is.
>       Secondly, language is itself an arbitrary set of abstractions,
> in the sense the distinction between one term and another is
> essentially
> arbitrary. Even in sense perception, the vocabulary of colour contains
> arbitrary elements, such as the number of colour words in a language.
> Where we have consistency between languages, this is likely to be
> where
> our physiology has a stronger influence than culture.    (012)

[[PC]] Yes, individually, but the abstractions that enter the language and are 
learned by age 12 are very finite, but adequate to support understanding of 
almost anything solely from linguistic description (i.e. reading about it and 
talking to others).    (013)

>       Thirdly, in much communication, the terms used are not the sole
> carrier the information, rather they invoke a knowledge-based
> procedure
> in the listener, who then finds the correct term to interpret the
> communication - which may or may not be the one actually used - see my
> earlier posting on situation awareness.
[[PC]] In human language situations, context that influences interpretation can 
be complex, but that doesn't mean that the number of primitives that are 
invoked are unlimited, it only means that the primitives that are invoked by 
particular words may vary with the context.    (014)

>       Therefore I do not think a single ontology is technically
> feasible. And from following the threads on this forum, I also doubt
> that it is practically possible.
>     (015)

[[PC]] Sigh.  One of the big problems in this kind of discussion is that is 
often breaks down in some assertion about "no one true ontology" or a 
"monolithic ontology" or an "ontology of everything".  None of the abhorrence 
of being forced to use someone else's ontology is relevant to the creation of a 
foundation ontology that can serve to specify the meanings of terms in all 
those other non-monolithic, multiple, inconsistent, specialized, or even untrue 
ontologies.  To serve as a basis for translating of other ontologies into each 
other it is not necessary to have representations of  everything, and even less 
to force choices among alternative representations.  It is only necessary to 
have a sufficient set of semantic primitives to specify the meanings of the 
ontology elements in all those other ontologies.  Technically, this is a lot 
more limited a task than even some domain ontologies pose.  The difficulty is 
getting together a group of users large enough to form a user community that 
can build impressive applications and show how they can interoperate with each 
other.  After fifteen years of trying other approaches, it seems clear to me 
that funding the creation of such a community is the only method that won't 
waste decades of time and trillions of dollars in lost opportunity.
  No one needs to use someone else's ontology unless they want to interoperate 
and communicate information.  Accurate communication absolutely depends on 
agreement on the meanings of the terms used for communication.  If you want to 
build an ontology in a corner and never communicate with anyone else, there is 
no need for agreement on the meanings of terms. If you do want to interoperate 
with multiple other ontology users, you absolutely *must* agree on *some* 
terms, even if they only exist in an interlingua used only for communication 
purposes.  What I am proposing is a method that will achieve the *minimum* 
necessary agreement by the fastest and most painless method.    (016)

> Sean Barker
> Bristol, UK
> 50% off Norton Security 2009 - http://www.tiscali.co.uk/security
> ________________________________________________    (017)

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    (018)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Re: [ontolog-forum] Fw: Next steps in using ontologies as standards, Sean Barker <=