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

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Matthew West" <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 2010 17:42:47 -0000
Message-id: <4b686419.0a04d00a.6481.6e61@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>


Dear Ali,


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.


MW: This characterisation is not fair to Foundation (or upper) Ontologies. Sure, they can be just labels that leave the meaning vague and open to varying interpretations (which is what is implied by still needing to figure out how we use the labels) but that is not necessarily the case. A well constructed but rigorous upper ontology would have relatively few axioms, but what they mean and how they should be used should be quite clear.

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. 


MW: I agree entirely that mapping between ontologies is the key thing you need to be able to do. If you have many such, then it is more efficient if you adopt a hub and spoke approach, using one (or a small number) into which and out of which you map. The challenge then is to find an ontology that you can map any other ontology into.




Matthew West                           

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Patrick Cassidy
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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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