I am glad that we finally have got this straight and can move on.
I think that this is where I came in 2 or 3 years ago. (01)
John F. Sowa wrote:
> Dear Matthew and Pat,
> People interact successfully among themselves because they have
> background knowledge about the world and about one another.
> Computers don't have any such knowledge, unless it is encoded in
> some way that they can use. The purpose of the formal ontologies
> we have been discussing is to encode that information.
> PC>>> ... the meanings of the terms in the ontology do not depend solely
> >>> on the total sum of all the inferences derivable from the logic, but
> >>> on the **intended meanings**, which do or at least should control
> >>> the way the elements are used in applications.
> JFS>> If those intended meanings aren't in the specifications, they
> >> won't get into the machine code. And if the spec's aren't precise,
> >> different programmers will write incompatible codes, which won't
> >> be interoperable.
> MW> What you say is true for information systems that humans are not
> > part of. However, that is very few practical information systems.
> > For most information systems humans are an integral part.
> I agree.
> MW> For example [humans] enter data, they read reports, and on that
> > basis they make decisions (not just the computer). In that case
> > it matters if the humans decide that a field that the programmer
> > decided should be a name, would actually be used for a description
> > or the price of something or whatever.
> I agree that computers have been successfully interacting with people
> for half a century without any kind of formal ontology -- in fact
> without any knowledge of any kind about the meaning of the data.
> The only knowledge about the data is in heads of the people who
> design, implement, and use the computers.
> One computer displays a form with fields labeled 'name' or 'price',
> accepts some input data, and stores the data in fields of a database
> that some programmer has labeled 'name' or 'price'. Another computer
> combines that data with other data and sends it to a printer or a
> computer display. None of the computers have the slightest knowledge,
> explicit or implicit, about the meaning of the data.
> Unfortunately, different people may use the same or similar knowledge
> in incompatible ways. Database developers noticed that problem in
> the mid 1970s, and they started projects to develop standards for
> a "conceptual schema" that would encode the background knowledge.
> For over 30 years, they have been discussing exactly the same issues
> we have been debating in ontolog forum and the SUO email list.
> We have two options:
> 1. Admit that encoding background knowledge in computer systems
> is a futile exercise and continue with the programming
> practices that have evolved over the past half century.
> 2. Develop formal ontologies that enable computer systems to
> reason with and about the "intended meaning" of the data
> they receive from humans.
> Option #2 requires ontology encoded in some logic-based notation(s).
> (By logic-based notations, I include SQL, UML diagrams, and STEP
> as well as Common Logic, OWL, etc.) The rules expressed in those
> notations will have to make the intended meanings explicit with
> the same level of precision as any engineering discipline -- i.e.,
> the precision and techniques used in writing mathematical formulas.
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