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Re: [ontolog-forum] FW: Guo's word senses and Foundational Ontologies

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 06 Jun 2009 14:30:57 -0400
Message-id: <4A2AB5E1.3040203@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat and Sean,    (01)

These are very important issues, and we will never resolve them until
we recognize the different *purposes* for different ontologies.    (02)

That is why I changed the subject line of this thread to
"Ontologies for development, interpretation, and interoperability."    (03)

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all ontology, and we have
been focusing on different kinds of applications.  In the previous
note, I distinguished four kinds, which I repeat here:    (04)

  1. Ontology for development:  A precise, formally defined ontology
     at all levels (top to bottom) that is suitable for designing
     and implementing applications that are guaranteed to fit
     together.  This seems to be the focus of your interests, and
     I agree that it is probably the main interest for those people
     who want a single upper level that governs everything.    (05)

  2. Ontology for interpretation:  An ontology with a loosely
     axiomatized upper level that is suitable for interpreting
     natural languages and determining which domain-level ontology
     is relevant to a particular sentence or phrase.  This kind of
     ontology is important for interpreting unrestricted natural
     language and for question answering about an open-ended range
     of topics.    (06)

  3. Ontology for interoperability by fiat:  A development ontology
     that enables all applications designed to its specifications to
     interoperate.  This kind of ontology has been the focus of many
     discussions in this forum, but it does not address interoperability
     among systems developed with different ontologies or with no
     explicit ontology.    (07)

  4. Ontology for task-oriented interoperability:  An ontology used
     to *discover* commonalities among independently developed
     ontologies for a specific low-level task.  This kind of ontology
     could be a ontology designed for interpretation.  It could also
     be an ontology derived from a development ontology, but with the
     detailed axioms moved out of the upper levels and into the lower
     levels.    (08)

These four distinctions (and perhaps others) show why we have been
going round and round in endless dispute:  we have focused on different
kinds of applications, different kinds of interoperability, and very
different solutions that are appropriate for one kind or the other.    (09)

I'll respond to your comments in a note under the alternate title,
because I believe that distinction is key to resolving these disputes.
Unless we begin to distinguish different kinds of ontologies for
different purposes, we'll be stuck with endless and pointless bickering.    (010)

John    (011)

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