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Re: [ontolog-forum] standard ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ron Wheeler <rwheeler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2009 18:28:15 -0500
Message-id: <49A08E0F.5040003@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
But don't your points lead to the conclusion that the problem is in the 
application area not the ontology area.    (01)

I am not an expert but I am not very moved by the argument that 
ontologies exist to please ontologists.
The form of the information should be irrelevant if it is "correct" and 
able to be understood by machines.
I understand that the transformation from one format to another may not 
solve all of the problems in using an existing ontology in a new 
application but if it is not easy to do then ontology is a rather 
useless endeavour to begin with. If the truth is tied to the 
representation so tightly that it can not be extracted and recast in 
another representation, it is hard to imagine any way to use it.    (02)

What is the problem of building a community of users? It doesn't sound 
like a shortage of ontologies or ontologists.
It sounds like a shortage of tools and practical uses for the ones we have.    (03)

Perhaps, instead of arguing endlessly around the edges of the problem, 
we might better serve humanity by discussing what is wrong with the 
tools or whatever the reasons are that hold back the development of 
"killer" applications.
Would $30 million on better tools and demonstration applications or 
prototypes move the process on a bit faster?    (04)

Ron    (05)




Patrick Cassidy wrote:
> Ron,
>    Even if all of Cyc were made completely free, without spending more than
> the 30M for the FO project, that would not solve the problem of developing a
> community of users, though it might speed the process a bit.  OpenCyc is
> already free, but there is as yet no community of users developing open
> applications that can illustrate how the ontology can be used.  It would
> still require an infusion of money to pay people to develop applications,
> and also to develop the translations from Cyc-speak to the other ways
> ontologists represent their information.  I don't see any alternative to an
> FO-like project to get a widely used common ontology as quickly as possible.
> Of course we can wait a few decades and hope that another process will show
> up.  I see no virtue in waiting, since, as I have pointed out several times,
> the losses due to waiting are much greater than the cost of the FO project.
>
> Pat
>
> Patrick Cassidy
> MICRA, Inc.
> 908-561-3416
> cell: 908-565-4053
> cassidy@xxxxxxxxx
>
>
>   
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
>> bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Ron Wheeler
>> Sent: Saturday, February 21, 2009 10:04 AM
>> To: [ontolog-forum]
>> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] standard ontology
>>
>> If I were reviewing a proposal for YAO, I would be asking, "What about
>> all the other ontologies that we already have paid for? Hundreds exist.
>> How is this new project going to impact them? Which ones become
>> obsolete? Which ones are going to be improved or reduced in size with
>> this new project? Which of the owners/authors of the existing
>> government
>> paid-for ontologies are supporting this request? Why are the others not
>> supporting it?"
>>
>> The question about the cost/benefit of opening Cyc completely also
>> needs
>> to be addressed. I do not think that I have ever seen a clear statement
>> about the size/nature of the problem with the proprietary part of Cyc
>> but it seems to be an irritant to people. I am sure that money alone
>> can
>> fix this.
>>
>> These are not unanswerable questions and I hope that the FO's wiki/web
>> site/project page will soon address them.
>>
>> Ron
>>
>>
>> Ali Hashemi wrote:
>>     
>>> Granted, my example of shoe size translation is facile. But the
>>>       
>> larger
>>     
>>> point stands. We're not trying to enforce one POV over another. The
>>> FO's effort should be the exact opposite. We want to accommodate
>>> however many views as people think are necessary (isn't that part of
>>> the beauty of life and necessary component of science)?
>>>
>>> The FO's should serve as a way, where possible, to map between the
>>> different POVs. If one is fundamentally unmappable to another, we
>>> should find out as soon as possible. In this way, the classic
>>> $1billion Airbus loss example, where a consortium of companies using
>>> two different software tools (one using "holes" as an explicit entity,
>>> another as implicitly contained in formulae) manufacturing
>>> incompatible parts may be averted. A retort might be - domain
>>> ontologies are adequate for this. True, but the same problems arise,
>>> people may have differing philosophical commitments / aesthetics /
>>> preferences. The fundamental problem of mapping / translating between
>>> the approaches is the same. We need to move away from this focus on
>>> consensus, and onto a focus on mapping :D.
>>>
>>> Oh and another case for ontologies - updating software 10 years down
>>> the line. Isn't one of the shortcomings of functional programming
>>>       
>> that
>>     
>>> the algorithm hides the semantics? So if in 10 years I want to update
>>> a module of software, it would ostensibly take much more time and $,
>>> making updating a non-trivial task, since it's unclear what the
>>> initial software committed to?
>>>
>>> Cheers,
>>> Ali
>>>
>>> On Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 8:17 AM, Ali Hashemi
>>> <ali.hashemi+ontolog@xxxxxxxxxxx
>>> <mailto:ali.hashemi%2Bontolog@xxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
>>>
>>>     Hello all,
>>>
>>>     Reading this discourse over the past few days, we seem to be
>>>     taking one step backwards for every two forwards. Below I'm gonna
>>>     present what my understanding of the current state of affairs is,
>>>     and what some proposed solutions to it are. Perhaps this can
>>>     migrate to the wiki with alterations refining our collective
>>>     understanding.
>>>
>>>     But first, some general comments -- I'm not sure why people are
>>>     comparing ontologies to traditional software paradigms - of
>>>       
>> course
>>     
>>>     in a silo a non-ontology approach will suffice and will likely be
>>>     more cost effective, yet this is missing the point entirely!  We
>>>     aren't comparing the cost of developing one application to
>>>     another, the whole point is -- what if we want to update the
>>>     software? connect it to another? These are the costs that need to
>>>     be internalized and should be accounted for in the comparison;
>>>     indeed it is here where the purported utility of ontologies
>>>       
>> should
>>     
>>>     come to shine.
>>>
>>>     Of course, one can develop an app in a silo for cheaper, but what
>>>     if two companies using different databases decide to merge? What
>>>     if in the life sciences two or more different databases are
>>>     required to interoperate. What if along your supply chain
>>>     different people have different accounting / shipping / etc.
>>>     software apps? Without an ontology, each of these scenarios
>>>     requires far more time, effort and $$ than one with an adequately
>>>     developed ontology. Hence, i submit that the cost analyses thus
>>>     far have been missing the mark, and if proposals have been made
>>>       
>> to
>>     
>>>     DoD or other potential clients without advancing these arguments,
>>>     then they aren't really touting the benefits of ontologies.
>>>
>>>     On to point two - in this thread, people have offered Cyc as an
>>>     example FO. I thought we'd moved away from FO meaning a unique
>>>     foundation ontology and instead had decided that FO means
>>>     Foundation OntologIES.  In this respect, Cyc is clearly
>>>     inadequate, since it only represents one philosophical paradigm,
>>>     which as we've seen again and again does not meet everyone's
>>>     needs. (Digression: access to Cyc is quite shoddy too, i (and my
>>>     lab) have applied multiple times for a license to OpenCyc, never
>>>     heard back .... will resist temptation to speculate why.) Maybe
>>>       
>> we
>>     
>>>     should retire the term FO and replace it with FO's, for clarity?
>>>
>>>     Now on to my summary:
>>>
>>>     Goals:
>>>     FO's should serve two purposes.
>>>
>>>     1- to maximize reuse and minimize "wheel reinventing" by
>>>       
>> providing
>>     
>>>     a resource for would be developers to identify axioms they would
>>>     like to reuse.
>>>         Note: This is stronger / more versatile than simple lexical
>>>     matching / i.e. reusing a pre-developed notion of "wheel". Rather,
>>>     one is reusing whatever it is that defines the wheel (vis-a-vis
>>>     Aldo Gangemi's work on ontology patterns, my thesis on ontology
>>>     design tools)
>>>
>>>     2 - facilitate interoperability among different philosophical
>>>     paradigms
>>>          This means storing and perhaps dynamically generating
>>>       
>> mapping
>>     
>>>     axioms between different ontologies. In the 1990's and early
>>>     2000's an Interlingua was offered as a potential solution. I
>>>       
>> think
>>     
>>>     with time, it has become clearer that a Family of
>>>     Interlingua ontologies is what is needed. One approach is
>>>       
>> captured
>>     
>>>     in CoLoRe which focuses on what can be expressed in a particular
>>>     language, and puts philosophical commitments secondary - to me
>>>     this is one very promising methodology, haven't heard any other
>>>     proposals.
>>>
>>>     Situation at Hand:
>>>     The ontology field is nascent and fractured.
>>>     There are few guides for would be ontology designers to aid in
>>>       
>> the
>>     
>>>     development of an ontology.
>>>     There are few tools for "" """.
>>>     As a result of the fractured nature, reuse is highly inefficient,
>>>     and once an ontology has been articulated it is unclear how they
>>>     relate to others.
>>>     Mapping into the thus far created UO's is inadequate, since the
>>>     UO's themselves aren't linked to one another.
>>>     Moreover, many ontologies today are still stuck in taxonomy mode,
>>>     which again, might be useful in a silo, but hides much of the
>>>     semantic intent external to the language of representation. This
>>>     inadequacy is likely due to the lack of formal logic familiarity,
>>>     coupled with a paucity of tools/guides.
>>>
>>>     Proposed Solutions:
>>>     1 - do nothing, hope the fractured nature will eventually meld
>>>     into a reasonable whole
>>>     2 - solicit government funding to address the collective action
>>>     problem arising from the tragedy of anticommons and the free
>>>       
>> rider
>>     
>>>     problem.
>>>     3 - several isolated approaches have popped up - WonderWeb (for
>>>     OWL), Ontology Design Patterns (for OWL), CoLoRe (for Common
>>>     Logic), plus some of the other approaches presented at the OOR
>>>     talk on ontolog last week
>>>     4 - combination of 2&3 (since the collective action problem is
>>>     quite real)
>>>
>>>     Expanding on 4 - while each of these approaches provides a
>>>       
>> partial
>>     
>>>     solution, there is no overriding force / initiative unifying them
>>>     (unless the ontolog effort culminates in a true crowd sourced
>>>     fashion). Moreover, each is funded by lab budgets, and AFAIK, no
>>>     one has $ for a dedicated caretaker for these efforts (webmasters
>>>     / someone who will maintain the wiki / update fields etc.). This
>>>     is grunt work that most will bristle at, yet it is fundamental to
>>>     the success of each project.
>>>
>>>     Detraction for do nothing -- ontologies might go way of AI in the
>>>     1980's. No certainty anything will come of it. Might fracture
>>>       
>> into
>>     
>>>     irreconcilable camps.
>>>     Detraction for FO's - consensus is elusive -- that's fine, we
>>>     don't need consensus! We're not trying to develop one size fits
>>>     all. We're developing translation from "size 10 shoe" to "size 44
>>>     shoe"... I can't stress this enough: No consensus is a red
>>>       
>> herring
>>     
>>>     at best, a straw man at worst!
>>>
>>>     In tandem, we need ontology design and semantic mapping tools to
>>>     support the upcoming infrastructure.
>>>
>>>     Summary:
>>>
>>>     Do people agree that we have a collective action problem here? We
>>>     have a cost to be burdened, with distributed benefits.
>>>       
>> Traditional
>>     
>>>     economic analysis would indicate this is often where government
>>>     intervention is desired.
>>>
>>>     However, we also see a bottom-up / crowd sourcing approach,
>>>     championed by ontolog, and seemingly gaining traction. However, I
>>>     don't see why this would preclude the former, so long as a
>>>     proposal is carefully delimited, and the moon is not promised :D.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>     Cheers,
>>>
>>>     Ali
>>>
>>>     On Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 12:23 AM, Ron Wheeler
>>>     <rwheeler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>>     <mailto:rwheeler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
>>>
>>>         Conklin, Don wrote:
>>>         > Pat,
>>>         >
>>>         > I'll start from the end of your last post. There is little
>>>         point in repeatedly referring to lost productivity on a grand
>>>         scale when there is no one concerned about it who has the
>>>         resources to address it. The closest match would require a
>>>         call to 202-456-1414, ask for Obama. Good luck with that.
>>>         >
>>>         > My experiences with DOD affirm your comment in that they
>>>         want an order of magnitude advance from semantic technologies.
>>>         But the hard truth is that the more tightly a domain is
>>>         focused, the more a relational DB solution will equal, or
>>>         better a semantic solution. At much less cost and difficulty.
>>>         >
>>>         > The DOD entities I've dealt with typically seek to
>>>       
>> integrate
>>     
>>>         some number of relational DB's, sometimes with unstructured
>>>         data. But within a fairly tight domain (yes, there is a range
>>>         to the domain focus).
>>>         >
>>>         > Interoperability, while given much lip service, lags the
>>>         commercial world. The DOD XML Registry was going to be the
>>>         solution...still waiting on that one. By the way, where is
>>>       
>> the
>>     
>>>         ontology repository and how capable is it?
>>>         >
>>>         > Fielding large scale, operational semantic systems is not
>>>         yet feasible because the supporting infrastructure is not in
>>>         place. For example, look in the Sunday paper job ads for
>>>         oracle DB administrators. Then look for ontologist ads...
>>>         >
>>>         > Unfortunately, as it takes money to make money, success
>>>         breeds success. Fielded semantic systems that work will
>>>       
>> garner
>>     
>>>         more funds for the application of those technologies.
>>>         >
>>>         > It would be great if the federal government CIO announced a
>>>         major drive to develop and field semantic technologies. I'm
>>>         not holding my breath and he is a lot more worried about the
>>>         next windows virus that decimates federal PC's.
>>>         >
>>>         > It will take a near gorilla campaign of small successful
>>>         semantic projects time to prove themselves while the
>>>         supporting infrastructure matures.
>>>         >
>>>         > The same way that Apple makes sound loops available in
>>>         garage bands for neophytes to compose into music may be a
>>>         model for non-ontologists to grab pertinent ontologies to
>>>         compose into domain ontologies. Then there will be a customer
>>>         pull for the techologies often discussed here.
>>>         >
>>>         >
>>>         That is what I hoped that the wiki would do but it seems that
>>>         most of
>>>         the vocal people here are more interested in angel
>>>         choreography than
>>>         actually advancing the use of ontology.
>>>         Some lurkers are actually quietly going about making things
>>>         happen or at
>>>         least that is what I get from the occasional post.
>>>
>>>         This was a hellofa long email to type on a blackberry. Good
>>>         thing my
>>>         flight was delayed.
>>>         > Don
>>>         >
>>>         >
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>       
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