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Re: [ontolog-forum] Just What Is an Ontology, Anyway?

To: paoladimaio10@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 2009 16:55:33 -0400
Message-id: <4AE0C6C5.1090409@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Paola,    (01)

 > I take it that Tom Gruber and yourself did not share a mailing
 > list twenty years ago?    (02)

Actually, we both participated in the SRKB effort (Shared Reusable
Knowledge Bases), which began in 1991.  Following is the mailing
list:    (03)

    http://www-ksl.stanford.edu/email-archives/srkb.index.html    (04)

As you might note, two of the most frequent contributors were
Pat Hayes and me.  Another project that began from that effort
was KIF (Knowledge Interchange Format) by Mike Genesereth
and Richard Fikes.    (05)

At that time, I was also participating in the ANSI and ISO
standards efforts for a project on conceptual schemas.  I
suggested that Mike and Richard should join that group in
order to define compatible ANSI standards for both conceptual
graphs and KIF.  As part of that effort Mike also hosted
some workshops on ontology at Stanford during 1996 and '97.
After several fits and starts, the KIF and CG projects
evolved into ISO projects for Common Logic.    (06)

 > I recently attended a seminar held by Prof., Dr Dines Bj°rner,
 > Emeritus, he presented his work as 'domain engineering' and
 > resembles very much what we have come to practice as
 > 'ontology engineering' after Gruber.    (07)

Dines B. had been working on using logic for the formal
specification of programming languages and databases since
the 1960s.  The database people coined the term 'conceptual
schema' in the 1970s for something that is indistinguishable
from what people are now calling an ontology.    (08)

But the person who coined the term 'ontology engineering'
was Doug Lenat.  He was even advertising for ontological
engineers as a semi-jocular "tongue in cheek" term.  But
some people took him seriously.    (09)

 > ... it looks like conceptual analysis per se (afaik) does
 > not necessarily model vocabularies, does it - and what about
 > relations-semantics    (010)

The people who develop vocabularies are called terminologists.
They even have official titles at the United Nations, such as
Terminologue de la Langue franšaise.  They have been doing
conceptual analysis as a basis for terminologies from the
early part of the 20th century.  They did not use logic for
their definitions, but their results have been adopted as
the basis for some of the largest computer ontologies.    (011)

 > from what I see, conceptual analysis is a subset of ont-domain eng    (012)

Technically speaking, analysis is part of the methodology.  The
result of the analysis is a formal specification, which can be
called an ontology, but has been called many other things over
the past half century.    (013)

John    (014)


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