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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 2010 11:03:14 -0500
Message-id: <4B6EE442.50505@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew and Peter,    (01)

I'd like to comment on some points that Matthew made in this thread and
Peter made in a different thread.  And I'd like to combine my comments
with parts of two previous notes I sent to this thread (copies below).    (02)

MW> It depends what you think an FO is, which seems to be one of the
 > questions that need to be settled still.  However, I don't think it
 > reasonable to expect to develop a single ontology that everyone will
 > sign up to.    (03)

I agree.  That is the goal of a proposal I outlined in the first note
copied below and elaborated in the second one.    (04)

JG>> How do I find out what "an Ontology Repository that federates with
 >> the OOR" means and how I can achieve it?  (Has this been discussed
 >> in one of the sessions, or is it a topic for discussion?)    (05)

PPY> I guess some developer has to "create" it first ... and then
 > administrators/stewards/users of "ontologies" will be able to
 > leverage those capabilities.    (06)

I believe the subscribers to this list can begin that development
very soon with a modest amount of resources.  In the initial stages,
it could be a *virtual* repository, which would contain metadata about
and pointers to various resources stored on other web sites.    (07)

That would require a small amount of storage space, and it could be
started on the same web site used for ontolog forum.  The initial
work would involve the development of the metadata for relating
ontologies to one another and to lexical resources that relate the
categories of an ontology to the terms in natural languages.    (08)

We would also develop guidelines for reviewing ontologies and
case studies about how they have been used, including both
successes and failures.  As time goes on, it could evolve from
a virtual repository to a physical repository with a full-time
staff, a larger budget, and systematic procedures for acquiring,
developing, and maintaining ontologies.    (09)

John    (010)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation ontology, CYC, and Mapping
Date: Fri, 05 Feb 2010 02:00:51 -0500    (011)

Before getting into the details of what I've been arguing against, I'll
summarize what I've been arguing for in many notes over the years:    (012)

  1. A loosely axiomatized hierarchy of categories (predicates,
     relations, functions, types, or whatever they're called in the
     version of logic that is being used).  Those categories may be
     associated with lexical resources such as WordNet, Longman's
     "primitives", Anna Wierzbicka's "primitives", Roget's Thesaurus,
     or many other resources that have been or will be developed.    (013)

  2. For any particular application, more detailed axioms are needed
     to support precise reasoning.  Those axioms are organized in
     small, modular theories (or 'microtheories' in Cyc's sense).
     Those theories can be related in a finite hierarchy (of which
     the infinite lattice is the theoretical extension).    (014)

  3. All the resources in #1 and #2 are stored in a repository,
     with all the documentation, case studies, testimonials for
     and against, stored with them.  All the relations that Ali
     proposed for COLORE and any others that anybody else might
     find useful could also be stored with them.    (015)

  4. Tools for using, analyzing, relating, combining, testing,
     extending, and editing the term hierarchy and the hierarchy
     of theories should also be developed and made available.    (016)

  5. Further additions, extensions, and modifications that anyone
     might invent or implement may be added as time goes by.    (017)

I believe that this kind of system could serve the requirements
that Pat C. would like to achieve, it can accommodate formalized
versions of theories based on Longman's list, and anybody who
finds them useful could use them and write testimonials for or
against them along the lines of point #3 above.  But it doesn't
require anyone to limit their choice to any predetermined set
of terms (whether primitive or not).    (018)

For interoperability, anyone who has stories about successes
or failures can document them in the repository, and further
decisions can be based on the accumulated experience....    (019)

John    (020)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation ontology, CYC, and Mapping
Date: Fri, 05 Feb 2010 10:47:46 -0500    (021)

Mike,    (022)

I agree:    (023)

MB> I think it would make sense to set up a structure as you describe
 > and populate it with such terms as can be defined semantically from
 > authoritative industry sources i.e. industry standards, along with
 > annotation of the provenance of those semantics.    (024)

The goal would be to "populate" it with any and all resources that
anyone might make available under a suitable license.  SourceForge,
Wikipedia, and WordNet are three different examples of rich resources
that were developed with modest levels of funding.  The W3C and ISO
are examples that require more funding, but have a more disciplined
organization.  There are many other organizations and consortiums
that use various non-profit business models for maintaining resources,
free, low cost, or high cost.    (025)

Instead of $30 million for a 3-year project, I would suggest a more
modest amount of funding to organize a long-term non-profit organization
that could accept contributions (of ontologies and funding), vet the
ontologies and related resources, organize them, and maintain them
according to guidelines along the lines we have been discussing.    (026)

MB> A vital component of this would be change management, such that
 > when the competent authority makes a change or an addition to
 > their semantics, this can be picked up and propagated through the
 > resource and any developments that have made use of this resource.
 > A tall order perhaps, but not as tall as maintaining an isolated
 > huge ontology.    (027)

I agree.  But we don't have to make it perfect on the first try.
Getting the resources together would be an important first step.    (028)

MB> For the most part such terms would also be more relevant to how
 > information is passed between computers, than something from the
 > broader and fuzzier world of the human language dictionary, I would
 > venture to suggest. They would certainly be simpler.    (029)

The organization could include both formal ontologies and lexical
resources for mapping the formally defined theories to natural
languages.  But it's important to distinguish the two.  WordNet
is often called an ontology, but it's closer to a dictionary
than to a formal ontology.  It's important to clarify the nature
of the various resources and their interrelationships.    (030)

MB> I think a relevant point is that any "widely supported ontology"
 > should be widely supported because it has emerged from industry
 > specialists  doing real work (like [Matthew's] work at Shell) and
 > not because some group of clever ontologists have got some funding
 > and gone off and done some ontology and then worked to get it widely
 > supported. In other words, the semantics would be widely supported
 > to begin with.    (031)

My preference is to let the users "vote with their feet."  All the
contributed ontologies would be organized in a hierarchy.  Each one
would have statistics, documentation, and reviews about how it was
being used and the results obtained.  Nothing would have to be thrown
away, all versions of all resources would always be available, and
users could view the collection according to various criteria:
popularity, reviews, success stories, application domain, etc.    (032)

John    (033)

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