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Re: [ontolog-forum] Field Review (Special Journal Issue?) - was Context

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ali Hashemi <ali.hashemi+ontolog@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2010 01:30:08 -0500
Message-id: <5ab1dc971001272230s61380c9duf46854b91d6470c9@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Peter,

Thank you kindly for your encouragement.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by operationalize, but here goes.

I unfortunately missed the boat with this idea for FOIS 2010 and perhaps the upcoming issue of AO (I became engaged in a number of immersive projects the past few months, one of which I look forward to sharing with ontolog when it is ready for deployment).

While it would be great to have such an effort go forward under the umbrella of an established journal, the incentive structure of attaining the requisite participation is outside the traditional "impact factor" publication stream. Moreover, walled knowledge is significantly less appealing than that which anyone can wander across, especially if the aim is to provide a benchmark of what there is in ontology at the moment.

Consequently, I wonder, what are the possibilities of a forum like ontolog supporting / publishing a one-off publication of such an issue? On-line only, if even?

As for getting participants, the immediate task is to get the word out and gauge interest in such an effort.

Since this is a one-off event, the structure of such a special issue would loosely mirror that of a conference. As the majority of the content of this issue is not focused necessarily with publishing novel research, but rather collating the work of research communities, a set of quality criteria ought be developed to ensure a standard of submission. What aspects of current / past research do we want to highlight? What are the overarching questions people are interested in having answered?

If there are volunteers to fill the "issue chair" and "program chairs" that would be superb. Otherwise, we also need volunteers to referee submissions for quality. A number of papers reviewing the field according to the perspectives of interests would be subject to standard peer-review quality criteria.

My seed suggestions were papers regarding: "Current Theoretical Issues",  "Current Applications" and "Current Tools /Languages." I am unsure if these categories are too broad, or if anyone feels comfortable tackling them. They are intended as starting points for discussion and we can refine these to article topics that volunteers would feel comfortable undertaking. Moreover, I am not suggesting that any single author can cover all  "Current Theoretical Issues", but that two, three or more such articles from authors well placed in the various schools of thought within ontology should provide the adequate breadth and cover.

So broadly, I would suggest at least two types of articles:
  1. This is who we are / what we do
    1. with special quality criteria developed (perhaps within ontolog)
  2. Review of issues of interest to cover the past X by volunteers (i.e. current theoretical, etc.)
    1. subject to standard peer review guidelines
The incentive I hope is clear cut enough that we will have volunteers, otherwise we might ask specific researchers to weigh in with their thoughts.

To reiterate, the purpose of such an endeavor is to provide the community with a sense of our achievements, a sort of benchmark to which we can look back in 5 - X years and see how we have progressed. Another corollary would be to bring forth and identify who is out there and what they are doing in a centralized resource, instead of the current state of affairs where contributions are distributed in sundry journals across multiple resources.

Any feedback / comments / criticisms would be extremely welcome.

Any volunteers for any of these positions would be even more welcome. I can devote significant time to this project as well.

Does this address the question of how to operationalize this idea? Is the rationale for this idea sound / agreeable? Is there something missing etc?


On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 8:19 PM, Peter Yim <peter.yim@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Great idea, Ali! ... how would you like to operationalize it? I'd be
willing to support you.

It is too late, though, to include this into this year's Ontology
Summit activities, but we could definitely consider helping you
broadcast the initiative, say at the end of the Summit (mid March
2010), if you are ready to launch around that time.

Regards.  =ppy

On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 2:47 PM, Ali Hashemi
<ali.hashemi+ontolog@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Just for clarity, in case anyone was interested in this idea.
> The impetus behind a special issue devoted to reviewing the field is to
> answer the following three questions:

> Who are we?
> What do we think?
> What have we done?

> Where we refers to various research groups distributed across the globe.

> Quick synopsis of rationale:
> Each year, there are X many new graduates, yet there is no centralized place
> to figure out what the outstanding issues in ontology are, who's working on
> it, and what they believe.
> Incidentally, this complements the "Ontologists of the Future" effort quite
> well. While I believe that pretty much every field would benefit from this
> type of review every 5/10 years, it makes a lot of sense for something like
> ontology to be one of the first who actually does it.
> I would further imagine that such an exercise would identify 3-6 dominant
> schools of thought regarding the best strategies for developing ontologies.
> I received my MASc this past March, and was considering immediately doing a
> PhD, but in doing research on the various labs in the field, it was really
> difficult to get a sense of who's doing what. In academia, we're distributed
> in various departments and disciplines (Engineering in Toronto, Philosophy
> in Buffalo, Medicine in Stanford, Machine Learning in Baltimore, dedicated
> in Trento) - again this has also been noted in the Ontologists of the Future
> effort.

> The initial idea I proposed was:
>> The basic idea is that in any field, it would be very useful to have a
>> summary of all the progress made over the past X number of years. As far as
>> I know, such a thing doesn't exist. However, the 5 year anniversary of
>> Applied Ontology will be next year, coinciding with FOIS, and I think it
>> would be wonderful to start this tradition - at least within the ontology
>> community.
>> One major component might be to elicit submissions from every research
>> group in the field (perhaps 250 words max), summarizing the state of their
>> current research. Another essential ingredient would be to have three (or
>> more) authors (ideally represent the contrasting approaches in the field),
>> to review the overall progress given their specializations / perspectives.
>> Each article would strive to identify the major paradigms in the field as
>> well as who has done what to address the major problems.
>> Lastly, we might want to organize such a special issue into "Current
>> Theoretical Issues" "Current Applications" and possibly "Current Tools /
>> Languages" - having articles or brief notes that discuss each, and organized
>> those short summary submissions noted above according to these categories.
>> In any event, the above are preliminary suggestions for how the "field
>> review" might look like. Let me know what you think. I would be able to help
>> however i can :D.

> Any ideas / feedback would be welcome.
> Sincerely,
> Ali

> On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 5:11 PM, Ali Hashemi
> <ali.hashemi+ontolog@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> Dear Patrick,
>> Thanks for this email.
>> A couple of points here, comments below.
>> On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 4:28 PM, Patrick Cassidy <pat@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>>> [PC] I never said that, and I don’t believe it either.  But regardless of
>>> how one chooses to talk about the world, any two communicating agents must
>>> talk about it **in the same language**, or else fail to communicate
>>> accurately
>>>  ....
>>> [PC] Not necessarily, though see the next paragraph.  I am sure that
>>> different people do have different fundamental assumptions and different
>>> beliefs, and use words in different ways, and all of that creates a great
>>> risk of faulty communication, as one can observe in many situations such as
>>> this forum.  In fact, it is probably impossible to people to have
>>> **exactly** the same internal states, though with effort we can get close
>>> enough to each other for communication accurate enough for most practical
>>> purposes (a least when they are not trying to score debating points).   But
>>> computers **can** have identical sets of theories (the computer version of
>>> beliefs), since the computer owners are in complete control and only have to
>>> choose to use the same set of theories in order to communicate accurately.
>>> My point was that since we do have control over our computers’ theories, we
>>> can get them to communicate accurately by using the same sets of theories.
>>> That doesn’t mean that there is only **one** true set of theories, it does
>>> mean that any group that agrees that **some** particular set of theories is
>>> adequate to express what they want their computers to communicate can use
>>> that set to enable accurate computer communication.  If there are some who
>>> feel that the theories are not adequate for their purposes, they can choose
>>> not to communicate accurately with the community that does use the common
>>> language – or make some adjustments to get an approximate interpretation –
>>> or better yet, try  to collaborate with the others to find some set of
>>> theories that includes their needs as well.   But once there is **some**
>>> community that uses a common foundation ontology as the basis for accurate
>>> computer communication among useful programs, it is likely that one such
>>> foundation ontology will be the most commonly used, and therefore will
>>> provide the greatest audience.  If a different foundation ontology is used
>>> in some specialized community, it can become the preferred basis for
>>> communication there, but that community will then not communicate accurately
>>> with the other, larger audience.  I expect that one common foundation
>>> ontology will eventually dominate the computer communication media for the
>>> same reason that English dominates in international scientific conferences –
>>> it gives the greatest value per unit effort expended.  That situation may
>>> not last forever – English may be replaced by, say Chinese . . .  that
>>> depends on unpredictable factors.
>> I'm very glad you acknowledge that it is probably impossible for people to
>> have exactly the same internal states, let alone descriptions of what is. As
>> you note in the first comment above, all that is really required for two
>> agents to communicate is to agree on what they're communicating about.
>> However, I'm not sure I accept your analogy that English == Common Theory.
>> For me the analogy is more along the lines of English == Common Logic or RDF
>> or OWL2 and the descriptions _using_ English are the actual ontologies we're
>> speaking of - i.e. the words used in English, say the vocabulary V ==
>> ontology O. To me this is a more apt analogy.
>> The solution your post above seems to suggest is actually very similar to
>> the interlingua ontology idea developed in the late 90's, though perhaps
>> that idea was too soon given the state of ontology development. It has since
>> been significantly updated, altered and revived in the form of the OOR or
>> COLORE projects.
>> As you have noted, the way for two agents to communicate effectively is
>> via determining where they agree and disagree on their theory (the
>> application of English to describe a particular domain / system etc.)
>> Moreover, as you note below, the number of primitives seems to taper much
>> like y = log (x). However, this doesn't mean that those set of primitives
>> are consistent with one another. And there's the rub.
>> As it stands we have many people who are working to develop this
>> interlingua; we are in effect, defacto developing exactly the set of
>> primitives you speak of, except in a not very coordinated manner and without
>> an overarching framework. While this lack of cohesion introduces some
>> problems, it also means work can progress without waiting for consensus.
>> Coincidentally, tools are developed, released and implemented to address
>> exactly those problems that arise from said lack of cohesion - notably
>> efforts in semantic mappings.
>> Thus, while we might not have all agreed on the common set of primitives,
>> we're slowly understanding where my primitives agree with yours and where
>> they disagree and in what ways. Unsurprisingly, this is also enabling my
>> ontology to be able to communicate effectively with your ontology in much
>> the way you described above.
>> Alas, this is slow going, and it can sometimes be frustrating that there
>> is no overarching cohesion, but then we have wonderful communities like
>> ontolog who are linking people together and providing a platform such as the
>> OOR to collate, collect and hopefully, ultimately connect all these
>> different primitives.
>> The above said, to me, a better allocation of resources, instead of a
>> trying to achieve broad consensus from the get go, would be to analyze what
>> currently exist, figure out what the primitives being used might be, and
>> figure out the links, kinks and winks between them - i.e. it might be more
>> useful to try to derive cohesion from these disparate efforts by digging in
>> and fleshing things out. An idea i'd floated before to Nicola Guarino and
>> Michael Gruninger, but I unfortunately haven't pursued with the requisite
>> vigor - is that I would love to see an issue of an ontology journal, say
>> Applied Ontology, devoted to cataloging who is doing what, what the major
>> perspectives in ontology are, and what the major contributions from various
>> research groups across the world are. Instead of a review paper, a review
>> _journal_ of where we are, who we are and what we've done. I think such an
>> effort would go much further in fostering the requisite cohesion than trying
>> to derive consensus first.
>> So, while I believe your proposal is valuable, I'm not sure it'll be able
>> to attract the requisite momentum; not to mention, there seems to be a lot
>> of work being currently done which already parallels what you envision.
>> All the best,
>> Ali
> --
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