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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: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 02:49:48 -0500
Message-id: <4B7A4E1C.9070806@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat,    (01)

I agree with that point:    (02)

PC> ... there will almost always be things that *could* be said
 > about the entities represented by an ontology that are not
 > in fact specified logically.    (03)

Two qualifications:    (04)

  1. Delete the word 'almost'.  No matter how much you say, there
     will always be more that can be said.    (05)

  2. Whether or not you use logic is irrelevant.  Anything you can
     state precisely in any language can be stated in logic.
     Conversely, anything you can state in any notation for logic
     can be translated to any natural language.    (06)

PC> Those things can be stated or implied by documentation that makes
 > clear to programmers the intended meaning of ontology elements,
 > even though those facts are not expressed logically.    (07)

Two more qualifications:    (08)

  1. Anything you can say in logic can be said with the same degree
     of precision in a natural language.  However, it is *harder*
     to be precise when you use a natural language.    (09)

  2. Any statement in any language or notation that makes a difference
     in the way any computer program is written or used can be stated
     in logic.    (010)

PC> Given the continued increase in knowledge, I would imagine it
 > to be noncontroversial that it is impossible to formalize all
 > possible knowledge.    (011)

I completely agree.  My only qualification is that the statement is
true for *all* cultures and civilizations from the earliest times
to the present.  In fact, it's impossible to formalize all the
knowledge of even a single 10-year-old child in any culture on earth.    (012)

PC> The task of the FO is to formalize just enough of it to serve
 > the practical needs of accurate semantic interoperability, by
 > serving as a means to translate among other ontologies.    (013)

This is where I disagree:    (014)

  1. There is no such point that is "just enough" for *all* applications.
     Cyc, for example, has found that no matter how much knowledge they
     have formalized over the past 26 years, they can't get up to a
     level that is "enough".  Every new application requires more.    (015)

  2. But for any given set of applications, it is not too difficult
     to formalize just enough for those applications.    (016)

John    (017)

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