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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, 19 Jan 2009 21:45:04 -0500
Message-id: <49753AB0.80607@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat,    (01)

We already have such a system:    (02)

PC> If you are interested in **accurate** transfer of information
 > among ontologies that can usefully share information, there is
 > no substitute for some common method of expressing meaning,
 > rich enough in the basic concepts to be able to translate among
 > multiple views of the same object.    (03)

It's called first-order logic (FOL), and it's a subset of every
natural language.  Frege and Peirce independently developed
different formal notations for FOL, they both converged on
identical semantics for FOL, and FOL is a superset of all or
nearly all knowledge representation languages.  That indicates
that there is something natural about using FOL for KR.    (04)

For the vocabulary, the most important international standards
are the units of measurement that have been defined for all the
basic physical observables and their combinations:  space, time,
electrical charge, momentum, energy, frequency, light intensity,
colors, sound intensity, etc.    (05)

We also have international standards for designating points
of time and space relative to the earth, sun, and our galaxy.    (06)

Every branch of science, engineering, medicine, law, business,
agriculture, finance, government, music, etc., has standards
bodies for designating, defining, and relating the terminology
for everything that is relevant to their field.    (07)

All of the above standards must be supported by any proposed
foundation for ontology.    (08)

PC> ... a foundation ontology that has as many of the basic
 > concepts as can be identified.  But that kind of ontology
 > will be only as useful as the number of people that adopt
 > it as the means of translating among their diverse preferred
 > representations.    (09)

The professionals who have developed the standards mentioned
above are far more knowledgeable about their concepts than
any amateur.  They will *never* translate their concepts into
some subset that a bunch of amateurs extracted from Longman's
dictionary or anything that resembles it.    (010)

PC> Is there a reason not to try to organize such a consortium,
 > to create and present a proposal for funding of such a project?    (011)

There is an excellent reason for not doing so:  Any consortium
of amateurs will *never* be able to dictate to professionals
how they should think and talk about their subject matter.
Any amateur who tries will either be politely ignored, rudely
dismissed, or treated with scorn.    (012)

The only skill that the people who subscribe to ontolog forum
may claim is some knowledge of logic and some experience of
using it to define concepts more formally than the usual
statements in natural languages.    (013)

That is why I recommend that we focus on the logical structures
and the computer-aided tools and methodologies to support them.
For the subject matter, the people in this group are amateurs
compared to the professionals in each field.  We cannot and
must not dictate to professionals which primitives they are
allowed to use to organize and think about their own subject.    (014)

John    (015)

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