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[ontolog-forum] Context in a sentence

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: David Eddy <deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2010 21:41:43 -0500
Message-id: <6CC0BEA1-27FD-49B9-9C59-A1FB6DF10164@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Ferenc -

On Jan 25, 2010, at 11:16 AM, FERENC KOVACS wrote:

This is what MT people do not seem to understand, becasue they believe in Frege who says that the sense of a sentence is derived from the sense of its constituents (words).

I'm not clear on what you're saying here.  "Frege" conveys no information or context for me.

What I'm GUESSING you're saying is what I think is a significant divide in the MT (machine translation) community.

In 2006 on a lark I attended a MT conference here in Cambridge simply because I could.  Other than being amused by the Russian-to-English translation fumblings in the early 1960s, I have absolutely nothing to do with MT other than general intellectual curiosity.

In the opening meeting the out-going president mentioned in his opening remarks about the long standing dispute/battle/squabble/wrangle over the basic point:

(1) the entire meaning of a message is self-contained in said message, or
(2) the complete meaning of a message could depend on contextual information OUTSIDE of the message.

I couldn't believe my ears, since I could not then & can not now believe in #1.  It's just not a world I've experienced.  Is #1 possible?  Yes.  How much of the time does #1 happen?  I'd say not much.

I double checked to be sure I correctly heard what I thought he'd said & he confirmed the above two decidedly opposing points of view.

Reading the NY Times is not the problem I'm interested in.  Those are documents written by humans, edited by humans for readability & intended for more or less widespread human consumption.

I want something--MT?  Ontology support?--that can read Fortran, Jovial, COBOL. Java, PHP, Ruby, C, etc. (oops... that's a computer language) documents & make (more) sense out of said documents.  These are textual artifacts (therefore "documents"?) which may or may not be written by humans, they're decidedly NOT edited for readability, and they are really not intended for human consumption.

AND much of the context in software code has been entirely stripped away.  So much to most of the context is external to the message/document I'm trying to make sense of.

AND... not to belabor the obvious, these documents can be stunningly devoid of any sort of formal, mathematical logic since they're dealing with regulations, laws, & business practices which often defy logic.  If a law states that under thus & such circumstances 1 + 1 =  3, then that's the way it is.

Is "ontology" going to help deal with my problem, or am I peering down the wrong rabbit hole?

Bluntly... is it a waste of my time & your bandwidth to pay attention to this ontology stuff?  Is ontology intended for an entirely different problem.

David Eddy

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