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Re: [ontolog-forum] Incompatibilities in 3D to 4D

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 16 Mar 2009 17:44:30 -0400
Message-id: <49BEC83E.2020603@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat,    (01)

I agree with your responses in the note to Ali, including your
conclusion:    (02)

AH>> Is the 3D-4D debate really an issue for people developing
 >> actual ontology applications?    (03)

PH> It is, because there really are some tricky problems in making
 > the various formal ontologies cooperate, and because both views
 > have been used in actual deployed ontology standards. So we really
 > do have an interoperability issue here. I don't say the situation
 > is impossible, but it is of more than purely theoretical or
 > philosophical interest.    (04)

I certainly agree that it is extremely difficult or perhaps even
impossible to do a global alignment of a knowledge base that is
axiomatized with a 3D ontology to a KB with a 4D ontology.    (05)

However, current systems interoperate on limited subsets of
their global ontologies.  For example, facts about names,
dates of birth, death, etc., can be interpreted by either one
and exchanged with the other -- even though each system uses
very different ontologies and axioms for reasoning about
those facts.    (06)

The point I emphasize is that there are two very different
assumptions about the requirements for interoperability:    (07)

  1. A global alignment of the ontology, axioms, and data
     of two or more systems.    (08)

  2. An agreement about the subset of constraints among the
     terms (words or other symbols) used in messages sent
     among those systems.    (09)

Assumption #1 gets into unsolved and probably unsolvable
issues.  But assumption #2 is sufficient for the kinds
of interoperability that runs the world economy today
and probably for a long time into the future.    (010)

People have been analyzing and writing papers about global
alignments of DBs and KBs for over 30 years, and I'm sure
they'll still be in the talking stage for the next 30 years.    (011)

But the people who focus on the narrower assumptions of #2
have been designing and using working systems for all that
time.  That suggests that we should focus on the conditions
for message-level interoperability.    (012)

For example, we should be able to formulate the conditions
for exchanging information about events and objects between
systems with 3D vs 4D ontologies.    (013)

John    (014)

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