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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontologist Aptitude Test?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 23:11:39 -0500
Message-id: <4B2C527B.1030300@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Joel, Ed, Jeff, Cameron, and David,    (01)

JB>>> ... the design and development teams saying "we need an
 >>> ontologist" or he/she goes to lunch with a colleague that
 >>> says "we've done so much better after we hired an ontologist".    (02)

JFS>> On what planet have you ever heard anybody say anything
 >> like that?    (03)

EB> I had the same reaction.    (04)

JB> I haven't heard that, but are you implying that nobody on this
 > planet has ever said anything like that?    (05)

Yes, and I suspect that Ed B. has the same suspicion.    (06)

There are some success stories for ontologies, and some happy
clients.  But the field is so unsettled that neither Ed nor I
could imagine anyone who would utter those two quoted sentences.    (07)

JB> Maybe I need a new kind of person, a lot like the systems
 > analysts that have been around for 30 years, but someone with
 > a different perspective.    (08)

Aristotle defined syllogisms for reasoning about type hierarchies.
Porphyry defined tree diagrams for representing them in the 3rd
century AD.  Type hierarchies have been used in programming languages
for 40 years, they're in UML diagrams, and the only reason why they're
not in SQL is that certain vendors have fought to keep them out.    (09)

If you want something more than just type hierarchies, there have
been formal specification languages that supplement them with
logical definitions since the Vienna Definition Language in 1968.    (010)

So far, the most widely used so-called ontologies are little more
than terminologies with type hierarchies.  The perspectives of
Aristotle and his buddies for over two millennia and the comp.
sci. gang for over 40 years should be added.    (011)

JAS> Rather than first developing the test, instead create an
 > Ontologist Body of Knowledge.  From them, several items follow,
 > including an aptitude test.    (012)

I would agree with that, and I think that your list is a good start.
I shortened your seven points by deleting words:    (013)

  1. Logic:  FOL, modal logics, and applied use, such as SQL or DL.    (014)

  2. Conceptual structures, including graphical tools and formal
     notations like XML, UML, many others.    (015)

  3. Tools:  ranging from general purpose tools (e.g., databases and
     Protégé) to specialized ontology tools.    (016)

  4. General systems theory.    (017)

  5. Algebraic methods such as trees and digraphs, lattices, and
     similar group structures, and graph theory.    (018)

  6. Ontology life cycle: designing an maintaining individual or
     coupled ontologies.    (019)

  7. Basic principles of syntax, semantics, semiotics.    (020)

I would add more terms about content, including time, space,
basic physics, and other concepts that have been proposed for
upper levels.  Units of measure, for example, are important
for any subject.    (021)

CR> This site has all kinds of information re: the SWEBoK (Software
 > Engineering Body of Knowledge):
 > http://www.computer.org/portal/web/swebok    (022)

That's an example of the level of detail that is a needed.
If and when such a body of knowledge about applied ontology has
been established, I would agree with Jeff that "an aptitude test
should be simple to formulate."    (023)

But the caveats that David made should be noted:    (024)

DE> ... we've been doing software (creating 1,000s of languages
 > in the process) for about 50 years & still have no widely
 > accepted means of measuring it.    (025)

Yes.  That is one of many reasons why I have a jaundiced view
of proposed measures.  A bad measure is worse than no measure
at all -- primarily because many managers will use it to make
very bad decisions.    (026)

DE> The "accepted standard" of lines-of-code is accepted without
 > blushing... very much along the lines of "If you believed that
 > last whopper, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn for you..."    (027)

That is an example of a horrible measure.  It makes Microsoft's
Vista (which Bill G. claimed cost more than the Apollo mission
to the moon) look better than Apple's System X.  Yet Apple
implemented System X with far less effort and achieved greater
functionality, reliability, and ease of use with far fewer
lines of code.    (028)

John    (029)

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