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Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation ontology, CYC, and Mapping

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ali Hashemi <ali.hashemi+ontolog@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 2010 11:55:53 -0500
Message-id: <5ab1dc971002020855w76c42f46p8fa4fa37f6812b17@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Wow, step away from email for a couple of days, and whoooomp.

Some of what I write might have become redundant, but I don't think so, the ensuing discussion quickly veered off.

On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 4:31 PM, Patrick Cassidy <pat@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>From Ali:
> AH> 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.
Which project are you referring to?  Without a pointer to publicly
observable details I can't respond meaningfully.

I don't think you read my post carefully.  There isn't a single project dedicated to this. There are people working on the bits and pieces. The closest to an encompassing project might be the WonderWeb project in the EU. The point is simply that people realize that it is useful to have interlingua ontologies, so instead of direct mapping, they go through a referent ontology. The only difference is that there need not be a single interlingua. You could have one based on DOLCE, another on SUMO and another on CYC, another on PSL or what have you. If you specify the mappings b/w each of these as well, then you have in effect global referent ontologies. It's really about semantic mappings more than anything...

Thus, if I develop ontology A, using DOLCE as an upper ontology, and you develop B using SUMO, and we only have mappings from A -> DOLCE and B-> SUMO, and there exists DOLCE <--> SUMO, then we can connect.

You do realize that in generating a single FO, if you wanted to incorporate the perspectives of DOLCE, SUMO, CYC et al, a necessary step in agreeing on those primitives would be to generate exactly these mappings right?

And again:
> AH> I will only note that a functioning family of interlingua
> ontologies
>  > - a collection, perhaps situated within a repository would suffice
>  > for almost all purposes of intercommunication. It makes the question
>  > of producing a single foundation ontology somewhat superfluous, with
>  > quickly diminishing returns on value.
[PC]  I don't know what you consider "an interlingua ontology".  I am all
for repositories, and there may be many domain ontologies that can be reused
outside the shop of the originators, that can be useful for related local
applications.  But unless the repository itself includes detailed mappings
between ontologies that support **accurate interoperability**, I cannot
visualize how such a repository would make a common FO "superfluous".  More
detail??  In what way would a repository per se enable interoperability?

A repository on it's own wouldn't. A repository that has the links between each of its member ontologies specifed would however. So maybe OOR wouldn't, but something like COLORE, where links between each of its member ontologies are specified, would. All without the requirement of a set of universally agreed primitives.
 I recall at the 2009 ICBO conference in July that there were some efforts
to begin the process of actually mapping the domain biomedical ontologies to
each other, or to a common higher-level ontology (beyond linking to BFO).
But the efforts at that time were very preliminary, and I did not see any
serious effort at the kind of coordination that would be required to
actually achieve accurate interoperability.  I hope there has been some
progress since then, and if you can relate the details of such an effort, or
of some other related effort, I expect that it would be quite interesting
for this discussion list.

Indeed. These approaches are more promising. Let's assume you develop a single FO. By virtue of its generality, the upper concepts will likely only consist of labels, essentially a bare bones taxonomy. Say I map into these labels, and you do too, are we any closer to interoperability? No. We still need to figure out how our use of those labels affects our communication.

The problem that you can't get around, with or without an FO is generating these axiom level mappings between ontologies. My argument thus far is that people realize that it is the generating of these mappings that are more important than agreeing on possibly vacuous, super general labels. 


Patrick Cassidy
cell: 908-565-4053

So I'll recap very briefly:

1) There might be no global cohesion to the ontology work being developed, but there is localized cohesion.
2) Interoperability relies on generating axiom-level mapping between theories, not linking them to (underspecified / vacuous) labels.
3) Amidst all this work, a number of upper ontologies have emerged that are generally being used as (semi)global referents.
4) Instead of trying to develop a single FO, resources would be better spent on focusing the mapping work.
5) If you want an FO, commission say a Master student to do their thesis examining the existing UO's and determine if there exists a set of primitives within them
6) As an extension of (5), develop semantic mappings between these concepts

This doesn't require $30 million. It doesn't require consensus among disparate fields or people. The first part can likely be done within a year, the mapping part, perhaps a few more.

In the end, interoperability comes down to figuring out what i mean, what you mean and where we agree and disagree. Connecting via an FO, where by necessity the primitive concepts would need to be under-specified helps not on iota. Ok that's too harsh, but ultimately, an FO doesn't seem to address the mapping problem in a significant way.


(•`'·.¸(`'·.¸(•)¸.·'´)¸.·'´•) .,.,

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