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Re: [ontolog-forum] ISO merged ontology effort "MCO"

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2009 08:12:41 -0400
Message-id: <49DF37B9.6050505@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Gian Piero,    (01)

Thanks for the summary.  (And I apologize for the extra R in
the spelling of your name in my last note.  Thunderbird caught
it, but I pushed the SEND button instead of the STOP button.)    (02)

 > we can say that, by comparing the upper levels of OpenCyc, SUMO,
 > DOLCE and the top-level of the CG hierarchy, the formal and
 > conceptual differences are so evident that any form of "merging"
 > is very difficult to envisage.    (03)

I completely agree.  However, the MCO document did not mention
OpenCyc.  It only mentioned SUMO, DOLCE, and BFO.  Perhaps they
might simplify their merger by omitting OpenCyc, but that would
make the largest formal ontology on planet earth nonstandard.    (04)

 > You can add that the top level of the 'static' ontology of
 > concepts of NKRL is based on the differentiation between 'sortal'
 > and 'non-sortal' concepts - 'sortal' concepts can have direct
 > instances, 'non-sortal' concepts, like properties or substances,
 > cannot have direct instances.    (05)

That's not a bad assumption, but I wouldn't put it in the upper
level ontology.  I'd put it in a specialized subontology for
applications that might depend on such a distinction.    (06)

 > By the way, with respect to NKRL, you know also that the
 > 'really important' ontology in this language/environment is
 > not the usual, 'static' one ontology, but the (new) ontology
 > of complex events...    (07)

I like that assumption.  It's close to Whitehead's position,
which I adopted for my KR ontology.  However, it is inconsistent
with many of the other ontologies, and it would be difficult to
get it into a standard.    (08)

 > Anyway, the procedure you mention in your mail, which boils down
 > to submitting '... a letter ballot to approve a study period to
 > determine whether...' seems to be neatly wiser than that followed
 > by the European Commission on this side of the Ocean, and consisting
 > in wasting the money of the European taxpayers in launching
 > questionable 14.7 million Euro projects like NeON - see Azemat's
 > remarks few days ago. And this without taking into account the
 > millions Euro already spent these past years to finance a Semantic
 > Web industry that does not start off.    (09)

I strongly agree with you.  In any case, the idea of letter ballots
has been part of the ISO/IEC procedures for many years.  Many people
have complained that their procedures are too slow.  But I like them
-- primarily because they delay people who have a few million dollars
or euros to throw around from ramming their pet projects down
everybody else's throats.    (010)

Guidelines for any proposed standard ontology:    (011)

  1. It should be consistent with accepted principles and practices
     in every branch of science, engineering, business, and the arts.    (012)

  2. It should be consistent with all widely used ontologies and
     development methodologies used in computer science and systems.    (013)

  3. It should not incorporate subtle philosophical distinctions
     that would confuse anybody who is not deeply steeped in a
     particular point of view.  For example, it should be neutral
     on questions such as whether a vase and the lump of clay
     from which it is made are two entities or one.    (014)

  4. It should allow anybody to incorporate subtle distinctions
     in philosophy, physics, or any other field into a specialized
     module or microtheory that may be necessary for a particular
     application.    (015)

These four principles imply that the upper levels of any proposed
standard ontology should have very few axioms.  Any axioms that
conflict with any of the starting ontologies (or any others that
may be important for many reasons) should be pushed down into
lower-level microtheories.    (016)

John Sowa    (017)

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