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Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation Ontology primitives

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 2010 13:05:55 -0800
Message-id: <20100205210602.80AC5138D8F@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Ferenc and David,


I COMPLETELY agree with the idea of names being meaningful, communicable, registered in the data dictionary, and tracked.  


But demanding a single meaning for a symbol word among a group of people is unrealistic, as JFS has long demonstrated in this forum and others.  Instead, the word should be meaningful to the developer who construes it (with help from the technical editors) and documents it.  The definition of that word should be meaningful to the mythical prototype reader, who truly doesn’t exist.  Instead, the other programmers and tech writers have to drag it out of him/her until the software interfaces work “properly”.  Meanwhile the requirements are evolving. 


This type of problem exists among larger teams of programmers who experience different meanings for common words such as buffer, packet, table, form, and many other common English words used metaphorically in program representations.  I find that Delphi’s strong typing helps me fix my own (one person) programs very efficiently, since I always interpret a word in the same fan of synsets, but the next programmer may not understand my particular intuition for the typed names anyway!  That’s just not fixable, even for simple words, IMHO. 


I do, however, use Hungarian notation for all naming conventions I personally choose.  I tack on a two letter, lower case prefix for each component type which I associate with a concept.  For example, I may use “tvOutline” for a tree view component in which my software displays an outline of a text, project, activity, or other object.  I may use “lbOutline” if the same conceptual information is presented in a list box.  Or I may use “reOutline” if the concept is displayed in a rich edit memo that can incorporate images, links, buttons, etc.  I might use “wbOutline” to display an HTML representation in a web browser.  In all cases, the “Outline” concept is the one I have in mind, and the one I try to convey in my writings.  I try to limit the number of root concepts in a program to manage complexity.  


That means I can have many different kinds of views of the same conceptual object – the “Outline” – but it’s MY OWN CONCEPT, not communicable to the next reader without a lot of labor by both documenter and reader.  The idea that I have chosen a WORD that is immutably congruent with the objective physical universe is ill considered. 


But Wierzbicka’s “primitive” concepts are like that also.  She has chosen concepts that are meaningful to her, and has written about her successful application of those concepts to various languages.  I think this is the same basic situation as the programmer (e.g., me, though I don’t really program much any more) developing concepts as a metaphorical explanation of a program and its uses.  Think of Anna’s concepts as higher level SPECIFICATIONS of those few concepts she spouses.  She uses the same telescope of primitives to see many different planets, but it’s still the same telescope (of primitive concepts!).  


The organization of WordNet, and its success in mapping out synsets from English common usage, shows that we communicate very inexactly, or in an “underspecified” way, as some writers like to say.  In a sense, those synsets are the Zipfian primitives of English, used in 80-90% of the conversations.  John Sowa seems to believe that the other 10-20% of English words were created opportunistically in language games, and handed down culturally over the generations, but language is open ended as he points out, not closed.  He makes a good case, IMHO.  But every brain fits into less than a two liter porridge bowl, so there has to be some limit on complexity of vocabularies, conceptual universes, and relational associations.  






Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of FERENC KOVACS
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 12:22 PM
To: deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Cc: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [ontolog-forum] Foundation Ontology primitives



Re: naming standards. Would the principle of Hungarian notation adopted suitably be of any help?

Or the system of mixed identifiers in a Bill of Material document?




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