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

To: <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "sean barker" <sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2010 19:10:23 -0000
Message-id: <206DE6517D04460D8757903E3F4DBC22@SMB>
 John    (01)

 The principal interpreter of the world to a computer is the human, either 
directly as the input, or indirectly, through the definition of 
discrimination criteria applied to sensed data (e.g. use *these* features to 
identify a car number plate in an image) - at least until we develop fully 
autonomous systems were even the system goals are set by the machine (cue 
dystopian sci-fi).    (02)

 There is an engineering problem to ensure that when ontology terms 
presented to the wetware they are correctly interpreted. In an enterprise, I 
would assert that    (03)

     a) the terms used well understood by the people operating in that 
enterprise AND
     b) the terms exactly correspond to the decisions that are significant 
to that enterprise    (04)

 Given this restriction, it is then possible to encode the enterprise 
specific rules that can be used to define the terms.    (05)

 For example,
   -"Technical Report" is a (formal) report on "technical matters" 
authorised by a "group Leader" and a "Departmental Manager";
  -"Technical memorandum" is a(n informal) report on "technical matters", 
without any associated authorization.    (06)

 In this context, I would describe the semantics of a term through the forms 
of life (business process) that the term evokes in the enterprise.    (07)

 The problem comes when the wetware uses the semiotics of a term rather than 
the semantics. For example, in aircraft manufacturer ABC:    (08)

 Term                             Semiotics 
 Manufactured part       Wing, fuselage frame        ABC has the 
responsibility to certify part for the aircraft type
 Bought-out part           Avionics, engine               Supplier has the 
responsibility to certify part for the aircraft type
 Standard Part              Rivet, washer                   Parts are 
pre-certified for any aircraft type    (09)

 The semantics of the terms are defined as the business process used to 
procure them, and not by any physical characteristic of the part.    (010)

 When you assert "The rules expressed in those notations will have to make 
the intended meanings explicit with the same level of precision as any 
engineering discipline" in my view, this is not a matter of general 
knowledge about the world, but of the recognisable constraints on "normal" 
usage that an enterprise imposes. Relationships between enterprises can then 
be tested by comparing ontologies.    (011)

 The restriction "enterprise" could be loosened to "any coherent linguistic 
community". Loosening it further than that (e.g. to the web as a whole) will 
be more challenging, and such usages are likely to be restricted by the 
appetite for risk of the users    (012)

 Sean Barker
Bristol, UK
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F.
> Sowa
> Sent: 15 February 2010 13:32
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation ontology, CYC, and Mapping
>                    *** WARNING ***
>  This message has originated outside your organisation,
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> 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.
> John    (013)

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