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Re: [ontolog-forum] Wolfram Alpha

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Erick Antezana" <erant@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 16:51:48 +0100 (CET)
Message-id: <20196.157.193.202.129.1236613908.squirrel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> John F. Sowa wrote:
>> Stephen Wolfram, who is an outstanding mathematician, built up
>> the Mathematica system, which is the premier mathematical computing
>> system available.  His company has now produced a collection of
>> mathematical models (i.e, ontologies plus reasoning modules that
>> use Mathematica as their foundation) for a wide range of domains.
>>
>> In May, anybody will be able to ask it factual question that can
>> be answered by formal reasoning or computation from material
>> available on the WWW.
>>
>> Following is Wolfram's summary of the project:
>>
>>     http://blog.wolfram.com/2009/03/05/wolframalpha-is-coming/
>>
>> Following is a testimonial by someone who has had hands-on
>> experience in testing Wolfram Alpha and was unable to make
>> it fail:
>>
>> 
>http://www.twine.com/item/122mz8lz9-4c/wolfram-alpha-is-coming-and-it-could-be-as-important-as-google
>>
>> As the title indicates, the author, Nova Spivack, thinks it could be
>> as important as Google.
>>
>> Following is another comment on Ars Technica:
>>
>> 
>http://arstechnica.com/software/news/2009/03/stephen-wolfram-and-the-techno-dianetics-of-google-ology.ars
>>
>> Following is an excerpt from Nova Spivack's note.  I strongly
>> agree with it.  In fact, I believe that this group must consider
>> Wolfram's approach to be a prime candidate for any system of
>> formal ontologies that might recommend, propose, or adopt.
>>
>> Note that I said *approach*, not the explicit content.  I'm sure
>> that the current content of Wolfram Alpha is also valuable, but
>> the techniques they use for developing and using that content
>> should be considered as a basis for further developments.
>>
>> John Sowa
>> _____________________________________________________________________
>>
>> Relationship to the Semantic Web
>>
>> During our discussion, after I tried and failed to poke holes in his
>> natural language parser for a while, we turned to the question of just
>> what this thing is, and how it relates to other approaches like the
>> Semantic Web.
>>
>> The first question was could (or even should) Wolfram Alpha be built
>> using the Semantic Web in some manner, rather than (or as well as) the
>> Mathematica engine it is currently built on. Is anything missed by not
>> building it with Semantic Web's languages (RDF, OWL, Sparql, etc.)?
>>
>> The answer is that there is no reason that one MUST use the Semantic Web
>> stack to build something like Wolfram Alpha. In fact, in my opinion it
>> would be far too difficult to try to explicitly represent everything
>> Wolfram Alpha knows and can compute using OWL ontologies and the
>> reasoning that they enable. It is just too wide a range of human
>> knowledge and giant OWL ontologies are too difficult to build and
>> curate.
>>
>> It would of course at some point be beneficial to integrate with the
>> Semantic Web so that the knowledge in Wolfram Alpha could be accessed,
>> linked with, and reasoned with, by other semantic applications on the
>> Web, and perhaps to make it easier to pull knowledge in from outside as
>> well. Wolfram Alpha could probably play better with other Web services
>> in the future by providing RDF and OWL representations of it's
>> knowledge, via a SPARQL query interface -- the basic open standards of
>> the Semantic Web. However for the internal knowledge representation and
>> reasoning that takes places in Wolfram Alpha, OWL and RDF are not
>> required and it appears Wolfram has found a more pragmatic and efficient
>> representation of his own.
>>
>> I don't think he needs the Semantic Web INSIDE his engine, at least; it
>> seems to be doing just fine without it. This view is in fact not
>> different from the current mainstream approach to the Semantic Web -- as
>> one commenter on this article pointed out, "what you do in your database
>> is your business" -- the power of the Semantic Web is really for
>> knowledge linking and exchange -- for linking data and reasoning across
>> different databases. As Wolfram Alpha connects with the rest of the
>> "linked data Web," Wolfram Alpha could benefit from providing access to
>> its knowledge via OWL, RDF and Sparql. But that's off in the future.
>>
>> It is important to note that just like OpenCyc (which has taken decades
>> to build up a very broad knowledge base of common sense knowledge and
>> reasoning heuristics), Wolfram Alpha is also a centrally hand-curated
>> system. Somehow, perhaps just secretly but over a long period of time,
>> or perhaps due to some new formulation or methodology for rapid
>> knowledge-entry, Wolfram and his team have figured out a way to make the
>> process of building up a broad knowledge base about the world practical
>> where all others who have tried this have found it takes far longer than
>> expected. The task is gargantuan -- there is just so much diverse
>> knowledge in the world. Representing even a small area of it formally
>> turns out to be extremely difficult and time-consuming.
>>
>> It has generally not been considered feasible for any one group to
>> hand-curate all knowledge about every subject. The centralized
>> hand-curation of Wolfram Alpha is certainly more controllable,
>> manageable and efficient for a project of this scale and complexity. It
>> avoids problems of data quality and data-consistency. But it's also a
>> potential bottleneck and most certainly a cost-center. Yet it appears to
>> be a tradeoff that Wolfram can afford to make, and one worth making as
>> well, from what I could see. I don't yet know how Wolfram has managed to
>> assemble his knowledge base in less than a very long time, or even how
>> much knowledge he and his team have really added, but at first glance it
>> seems to be a large amount. I look forward to learning more about this
>> aspect of the project.
>>
>>
>>
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>>
> Very simple question: What happens when I don't ask my question in English
> ?    (01)


I think that Wolfram also considered that as well as taking into account
shorthand notations:    (02)

"Of course, even that has never been done in any generality. And itís made
more difficult by the fact that one doesnít just want to handle a language
like English: one also wants to be able to handle all the shorthand
notations that people in every possible field use."    (03)

source: http://blog.wolfram.com/2009/03/05/wolframalpha-is-coming/    (04)

Erick    (05)

>
> --
>
>
> Regards,
>
> Kingsley Idehen             Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
> President & CEO
> OpenLink Software     Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
>
>
>
>
>
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>    (06)



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