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Re: [ontolog-forum] Danger of URIs in mission-critical applications

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Patrick Cassidy" <pat@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 14:10:44 -0400
Message-id: <0e9f01ca0189$be3a7590$3aaf60b0$@com>
Just one point about how a Foundation Ontology is interpreted:    (01)

> PC> That is a function that a common foundation ontology
>  > could serve; the elements of an FO could be labeled by URIs
>  > or any other unique ID system, but the meanings would have
>  > to be derived from the agreed interpretation of the basic
>  > defining elements of the FO.
[JS] > How could anyone possibly agree on the details of an FO?
> Physicists can't agree to common definitions, since
> they knowingly prefer to use theories that they also
> "know" are "false".  And when you go from physics to any
> other field, the situation gets progressively more
> complicated.
> In every field of science and technology, the practitioners
> have a large bag of theories.  They know that most of those
> theories are mutually inconsistent.  But depending on the
> problem at hand, they quite happily pick and choose one or
> another from their stock of inconsistent theories.
> If this is the state of the art in physics, how can you possibly
> assume that any group of experts in any field could agree on
> a fixed set of definitions for the terms in their field?
> John
>    (02)

 The above comments demonstrate a misunderstanding of the function of the
common Foundation Ontology- it is not to force agreement on theories which
are inconsistent, but to provide a set of concept representations that can
unambiguously describe different theories in logical form, whether or not
the theories themselves are inconsistent.  The critical point is that is
possible to describe inconsistent theories using the same **agreed&&
inventory of basic terms.  People do that every day, and the task of the FO
is to enable computers to do that too.    (03)

  The Foundation Ontology will record all of the meanings of concepts that
**can** be agreed upon by those who are developing information
representations that are intended for practical use, and who wish their
information to be in a form automatically interpretable by the computer
systems others use.  This eliminates most of the very peculiar extremes of
theory that may be developed by some for their own purposes, without any
desire for interoperability with others.  The differences that remain, such
as Newtonian and Einsteinian physics, can be represented as different
theories that are useful in different circumstances, but the fundamental
defining terms that specify the meanings of those theories will be agreed on
by all who wish to communicate with others.  For the same reasons that
physicists can describe the differences and different purposes of different
theories while using a common language, the ontology can also describe
theories that represent different models of some aspect of the real world,
and those theories themselves will be as unambiguous as the same theories
represented in language.   The differences among scientists are not in what
different terms may mean (in any specific context of use), but whether the
different definitions of terms apply more or less precisely to the
real-world system that they are intended to model.  The **meaning** of each
definition of a term can be made precise, and each different definition of a
term can be specified precisely by use of the common basic defining
vocabulary.  It is the common basic defining vocabulary that will be the
subject for agreement among those who wish to communicate accurately.
   When scientists differ as to which theory best represents the real world,
there is no difficulty specifying the meaning of the theory to a degree of
precision adequate to demonstrate what the differences are.  This is
accomplished by using a common set of **defining terms** that are themselves
agreed on.  And in the context of computer interpretation of theories, the
representations of the common set of defining terms is what is agreed to in
the foundation ontology.    (04)

[JS] > 
> The best that can be done is to record and catalog all the
> options and variations.  Let the experts in each field
> provide guidelines for picking and choosing theories that
> have proved to be useful for various problems.
>    (05)

Well, yes, the different theories can and will be catalogued.  They will be
mutually comprehensible to the champions of the different theories, and to
any computer that uses the common foundation ontology,  because they are
described using a common set of terms whose meaning is agreed on, and they
are represented in a computer using a common set of defining concept
representations whose meaning is agreed on.  It is the ability to properly
interpret different statements and theories, whether they are consistent or
inconsistent, that is the function of the linguistic common defining
vocabulary, and will be the function of the common FO.    (06)

In the 30-some years I worked as a research scientist, I never ran into a
terminology dispute that was not quickly recognized as such, and not quickly
resolved by defining terms using the same basic vocabulary ***that we all
agreed on***.  That is the function the FO serves for computers.    (07)

Pat    (08)

Patrick Cassidy
cell: 908-565-4053
cassidy@xxxxxxxxx    (09)

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