> 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
> 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
>> 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.
> On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 5:11 PM, Ali Hashemi
>> 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
>>> [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
>>> [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,
> (•`'·.¸(`'·.¸(•)¸.·'´)¸.·'´•) .,.,