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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology-based database integration

To: edbark@xxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 07 Oct 2009 22:54:56 -0400
Message-id: <4ACD5480.9090608@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed,    (01)

I chose the term 'scare tactic' with all due respect to the DL
technology, which I have always agreed was very useful.    (02)

EB> I think this adds more heat than light.  This is not just
 > a "scare tactic" to keep the DL folk in business.    (03)

I strongly believe that we should support every useful technology.
However, there are some people in the DL community (certainly not
all) who have been using the word 'decidable' as a weapon to deny
funding to every approach other than their own.    (04)

EB> Unfortunately, it has been my experience that reasoners for
 > untrammeled languages exhibit a kind of "self-symmetric" behavior.
 > What appears to be a minor addition or modification to an axiom
 > set can suddenly cause non-termination on 50 regression tests
 > of the ontology.    (05)

Of course.  That is why we need good development tools and
methodologies.  The DL algorithms and methodologies can be
used equally well when the underlying language is full FOL
as when the underlying language is limited to a narrow focus.    (06)

EB> It is really hard to know which straw will break the camel's
 > back, even when you think you know how the reasoner does its
 > searches.    (07)

Of course.  That is why Cyc, OntologyWorks, and many, many
other groups use multiple reasoning engines.  There are
simple syntactic tests that can be used to check which subset
of logic is being used and which engine should process it.    (08)

EB> The problem with the use of an "undecidable language" for
 > interlinked Web ontologies is that you may not know when there
 > has been a minor addition or modification to one of the
 > ontologies your reasoning engine is using to answer your
 > queries, with the consequence that everything that worked
 > yesterday doesn't work today.    (09)

The technology for dealing with those issues has been well
established for decades.  You don't give a student driver
an Indie race car for practice.  You give the newbies tools
that put the appropriate constraints on what they can do,
but you also let the people who know what they're doing
invent new technology that you never dreamed of.    (010)

EB> I am only concerned about capturing available knowledge and
 > using it in certain well-defined patterns to make judgments.
 > And we hope that next year we will be able to do more with the
 > same knowledge base, using better engines or more knowledge
 > about how to steer them.    (011)

"Next year" arrived a long time ago.    (012)

Using an IBM 704 in 1960, Hao Wang implemented a theorem prover
for FOL that proved all 378 theorems in propositional and first
order logic from the _Principia Mathematica_ in just 7 minutes.
That was an average of 1.1 seconds per theorem.  I discussed
that and other issues in the following paper:    (013)

    Fads and Fallacies about Logic    (014)

Jim Hendler was the editor of the journal in which that paper
was published, and he said that he liked it very much.    (015)

EB> The DL approach constrains what you can write, so that it
 > can guarantee results.  For some projects, that is much more
 > important than allowing the capture of every nuance.    (016)

I worked for a profit-making company for 30 years (IBM) and I
am a cofounder of a startup company (VivoMind).  I have the
highest respect for projects that meet requirements on time
and within budget.    (017)

DL is just one of a large number of logic-based technologies
that produce useful results for certain kinds of problems.
Unfortunately, people are being forced to use OWL for tasks
that it was never designed to do.  They go through contortions
that make Perl look like the epitome of structured elegance.    (018)

Following are some slides that I presented as a tutorial
at a semantic technology conference.  After the conference,
I added a few more to cover additional points:    (019)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/cnl4ss.pdf    (020)

Those slides cover a wide range of different technologies that
have been used to support good methodologies for developing,
supporting, and using knowledge bases and databases.  The
emphasis is on controlled natural languages for the user
interface, but the supporting technology could be used for
other kinds of applications as well.    (021)

If you don't want to go through all 128 slides, start with
Section 5 on methodologies and missed opportunities (slides 71
to 92).  That covers a few of the technologies and methodologies
and my recommendations for what we should be doing "next year".    (022)

Those slides also include URLs of publications for each of
the technologies.  There are more technologies that could be
mentioned, but 128 slides are enough.    (023)

John    (024)

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