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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Tolk, Andreas" <atolk@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2009 17:51:38 -0400
Message-id: <4839109173C2DF4FAE02C9C3FBEE973F2CC453A170@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To say who is right is mainly a question of what you want to use the ontology for.
As already stated earlier, I am using ontologies in the search for unambiguous information capturing in systems. I use that I can define domains, classes, concepts, and properties and can use them to define what may system can understand. I use axioms to capture rules that otherwise are in manuals or frozen in code, but become explicit an communicatable in ontologies. We capture pre-, post-, and exit-conditions to communicate processes in ontologies. this is not the real world, this is a incomplete and abstracted part of the interpretation of the world that a system can work with.
I do not try to capture employees ideas about the Halloween break or the salary freeze or increase, if it is not part of my system, but if I model it as part of my system, it becomes part of the ontology.
For my, ontology is a tool that is better than everything else out there to capture the unambiguous description of my systems so I can decide if I can compose them to something bigger or not.
As such each populated ontology represents one world view, namely the one in the model/system which hopefully is mappable to that needed to answer a question, so that I can use the model.
As such, ontologies are helpful tools for me to identify applicable models to answer a question, select the best ones, compose them to provide the functionality needed to address my concern, and orchestrate their execution. That is what I use ontologies for, and as such, I am very aware of all the problems and constraints discussed here in the recent days, as they are a pain in the ... you know where when you have two developers calling the same thing by different names, or different things by the same name, and in addition having slight changes in properties resulting in different conceptualization that can be sufficiently similar ... and so forth.
Yes, you are right, but what do we want to gain with using ontologies?
May hope is to gain better communication of perceptions to allow mediation between viewpoints, between systems, disciplines, bodies of knowledge, requirements, etc. ... you name it.
Happy Halloween
==================== ;-)
Andreas Tolk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Engineering Management & Systems Engineering
Old Dominion University

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