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Re: [ontolog-forum] standard ontology - Pat's 5 questions

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Matthew West <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 23:04:16 -0000
Message-id: <49935992.1e2d400a.34e6.5b3f@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Dear PatH,




I don't think so, mia culpa for trying to be too cute. I'll try again. Types are sets, OK. Why not just call them 'sets', then? I suspect the reason is that while all types are sets, not all sets are types. Some sets are, other sets are just damn silly sets. FOr example, the set of all triangular pieces of 3-space might be a type, but the set of all African lions over three years old, my aunt, the number 14 and the sodium atoms contained at this moment in my left pinkie's fingernail, might not be a type. The point being that a set really can be a set of anything, assembled for no rational reason at all; but (I suspect) you don't want to be this liberal with what counts as a type (?). If I'm right, what criterion distinguishes the sets which are types from the other, sillier, sets? If I'm wrong, why not just say "set" instead of "type" everywhere? 


[MW] I’m pretty certain any set is allowed, otherwise the powertype stuff doesn’t make a lot of sense.

If you want to discuss this sort of stuff, you’re better engaging with Matthew and Chris, who’ve actually bothered to go and read books on logic and philosophy.

4)      Never thought about it, but I can’t see why not. The bigger question is why on earth would you ?


Oh, because it is often handy. In RDFS for example the class of all classes is a class. (What else would it be?) The reason for asking was to probe into your underlying logic, to tell you the truth. 


[MW] Well as you know I take the class of all classes as a class, but I’m not sure where Chris P stands.

5)      Purple is a type, it’s extent is all things that are purple.


So colors are sets of things with that color, do I have that right?  Including all parts of things that are purple, I presume? This does work, though the best account of color is that its a property of a surface rather than of an object. 


Being square is membership of the type “square things”.


So is membership in a type a kind of thing, or individual? 


[MW] It’s a type of couple (see the ontology fragment below).

MotherOf is a couple


? I fail to follow this. A couple of what? (Do you mean, a set of 2-tuples? If so, I'm cool with that answer,

[MW] Yes.

but I'd like to be able to treat that set as an individual (my sense), ie be able to talk about it standing in relations and having properties.)


[MW] Yes. It is a thing (again you only need to read what is below) and so can stand in a tuple.

, though you may also wish to define other things like birth, which would be a type of individual, my son’s birth is an individual – it had spatio temporal extent, and had as it’s parts, a temporal state of his mother, a temporal state of him, a temporal state of the birthing suite, a temporal state of the midwife, and a highly stressed temporal state of me.

Yup, this all makes sense. I think when it comes to concrete spatiotemporal entities we will be in almost complete agreement, though Im less of a strict extensionalist (your sense) than you all are. 


A death mask is obviously an individual (it has an extent). There is a temporal extent of it when it was touching a corpse’s face (haven’t we all ?).


Yes, but what I wanted to know about was the shape of the mask. Is the shape an individual? 


[MW] Depends a bit on what you think the shape actually is. If you think it is the physical surface of the mask, then it is an individual (our sense). If you mean the geometric shape – an abstraction of the physical surface, it is a class (of all things with that shape).

Moby Dick, even 2nd edition of Moby Dick is a type.


OK, so the work is the set of its physical copies or editions. So when Melville was sitting writing, what he was writing was a set, none of whose elements existed at that time?  Hmm. Seems kind of implausible to me. 


[MW] No, he was writing the first copy.

The copy of Moby Dick on my bookshelf is an individual. An e-mail is a type,


An email is a set? That just seems plain flat wrong. You can't send sets from place to place using network transfer protocols. 


[MW] Again, depends what you are talking about, the common content (we’ve been here before) or the physical sign.

the rendition of it on my screen is an individual. I think all this is based on Strawson’s utterance work, but you’d have to ask Chris about that…me no do philosophy. Me engineer.

I think the points you raise are very interesting arguments, and I’m glad someone’s thinking about stuff like that. If I ever decide to do an ontology about Sherlock Holmes investigating quantum uncertainty of death masks whilst simultaneously conjecturing about sets which contain themselves, you’ll be the first person I call….just don’t expect a call any time soon.


Every question had a direct root in a practical issue, believe it or not. I'm surprised you havn't come across most of them already. 


[MW] And there are more, like what sort of thing is The President of the United States?




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From: Pat Hayes [mailto:phayes@xxxxxxx] 
Sent: 11 February 2009 05:44
To: ian@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; [ontolog-forum] 
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] standard ontology



On Feb 10, 2009, at 3:53 PM, Ian Bailey wrote:

Does anybody read past the first sentence before firing off responses to the
exploder  ?

As I said earlier, this is the IDEAS *foundation*. I did ask what your
understanding of "foundation" was in a previous posting...I guess I got my
response, albeit not quite in the manner I expected. 

Under the foundation, we have common patterns for agent, process, etc. 

As for syntax...I seem to recall getting a severe beasting from Pat for
suggesting RDF is just a syntax (it is).


I helped define and RDF, and I wrote the semantics specification document, which is normative. RDF is not just a syntax. Repetition of a mistake does not stop it being a mistake. By repeating it, you are just making yourself look sillier.

The IDEAS categories are
extensional, therefore tightly coupled to the real world.


? I fail to see the connection here. Set theory is extensional. Group theory is extensional. 

I can choose to
represent them in RDFS if I wish, 'cos it's a syntax.


You can indeed, but not for that reason. 

In the previous mail,
I represented them as a tree of text...which is also a syntax. I could also
barcode them on my backside, 'cos that's a syntax (in fact I have, but
that's a private matter). Because we bothered to record our criteria for
identity of the IDEAS categories, we can be confident of what they are.
Because we know what they are, we don't give a monkey's what we use to
represent them. I realise this a quite a long way down the mail, so you
won't be reading it, but here goes again:

INDIVIDUALS have spatio-temporal extent (i.e. you can kick them, or could
kick them in the past / future)
TYPES are identified by their members - which could be individuals, types or
TUPLES are identified by their ends


OK, I've read all the way down. Now, let me respond. First, OK y'all have described your system quite tightly and thoroughly, which is good. But you are also stuck in a cul-de-sac, apparently paying no attention to the rest of the world, which is not good. You don't understand RDF and RDFS, which maybe isn't itself very important but I fear may be only a symptom of a deeper malaise. You mis-use established terminology ("individual" here being the worst culprit: that isn't what everyone else means by "individual". For example, the number three is an individual, but not one of yours.) Just generally, you appear to not know about basics like the distinction between syntax and semantics, what 'extensional' means, the difference between actual and possible, and so on. Look, I'm not meaning to criticize or pull rank here, just letting you know that there is a big ontological world out there, and before suggesting that your brand-new minor variation on a theme by Aristotle is the final answer to the world's problems, it might be a good idea to try reading a little more about what others have done. You aren't the first people to invent a formalized system for representing general knowledge, and you ought to at least know a little bit about what was already done. After all, suggesting any ontology as a possible general ontology standard amounts to making a VERY large philosophical claim, one that most professional philosophers or ontologists would hesitate to even approach. At the very least, it surely behooves one to know just a little about the field in which one is making such grand suggestions. Like knowing what some of the long words mean, and being able, or maybe willing, to actually read and understand the specifications of the notations one is bandying about. 


Here's a few questions for y'all. 


(1) Is Sherlock Holmes an individual? One might say he is located in a possible space-time, but not in the actual one. Do you want to say that? If so, how are the many possible but non-actual space-times related to one another, if at all? If not, what do you want to say about S.H. ?


(2) How much extent is required? Is the event of a quantum being emitted by a sodium atom's moving from a higher to lower energetic state an Individual? (How does one kick that?) Are things like vortices in a fluid, waves on the ocean, burstings into flame, explosions all Individuals? (How does one kick them?) Is an acceleration an Individual? (Say my truck goes from zero to 30 in about a minute when I set off to work tomorrow. Is that acceleration an Individual? How does one kick it?)


(3) You say a type is identified by its members, which I take to mean that if it has the same members, its the same type. That sounds like saying that a type is a set. Is a type a set, in fact? If not, how do they differ from sets? If they are, are all sets types? If not, what distinguishes the type-type sets from the non-type-type sets? 


(4) You say that a type can be a member of a type (which is good, and not un-extensional.) Can a type be a member of itself? More generally, can there be circles of type-membership, so that A is a type of B is a type of C is a type of A ? If not, why not? 


(5) Into which basic ontic category would you put the following: the number three; the color purple; the property of being square; the relation between people of being the natural mother of ; the shape of a face (in the sense in which a death mask has the same shape as the face it is a casting of); the Krebs cycle in cellular biology; Moby Dick, the novel by Melville (not any particular imprint or edition of it, but the work itself); a website (c.f. the current W3C debates over the notion of an "information resource"); an email message; the sentences in that same email message; a substance (such as clay or air: not any particular piece of it, but the stuff itself); a time-interval?  I realize this is a longish list, but since you have your identity criteria so well defined, you ought to be able to rattle them off pretty quickly.


Pat H

-----Original Message-----
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
Sent: 10 February 2009 21:27
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] standard ontology

Ian and Pat,

I agree with Pat:

PH> I wouldn't describe this list as an ontology at all, more

like the underlying formalism of an ontology. I would add

immediately that this isnt a clear boundary, but your list

here doesn't seem to be about the world being described so

much as about the apparatus you propose to use to describe it.

The following classification is closer to a description of the
permissible syntactic categories:

  -tuple (thing, thing, thing, ...etc.)
    -couple (thing, thing)
      -superSubtype (type, type)
      -typeInstance (type, thing)
        -powertypeInstance (powertype, type)
        -nameTypeInstance (nametype, name)
      -namedBy (thing, name)
    -triple (thing, thing, thing)
    -quadruple (thing, thing, thing, thing)
    -quintuple (thing, thing, thing, thing, thing)

Common Logic, for example, is called a logic rather
than an ontology.  But it is possible to define a dialect
of CL that uses the labels above to name the syntactic
features of CL.

 - A thing is anything named by a CL name.

 - A type is a monadic relation that is used as a
   restriction on a quantified name.

But as Pat said, the boundary isn't clear.  You could say that
your system does make the following "ontological commitment":

 - If there exists a thing x and a thing y, then there exists
   a couple consisting of x and y.

In CLIF, that statement could be written as the following axiom:

   (forall (x y) (exists (z) (= z (couple x y))))

However, this level of commitment is far below what you would
get from adopting any first-order logic plus some obvious
mathematical theories that can be axiomatized in FOL:  sets,
functions, relations, integers, real numbers, etc.

But that is still very far from giving us an ontology that can
represent all the stuff of science, engineering, business, etc.


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