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

To: <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "sean barker" <sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2010 17:32:13 -0000
Message-id: <952EB36C250A4222BEC39DAD26B90453@SMB>
Len, Matthew, Pat C
1) I don't see the relevance of the frame problem. It is not assertions that are changing over time, but the concepts of the ontology.
2) Yes, you can specialise a concept, but then it is no longer a primative, and now the FO has changed. The point of an FO surely is that it is stable, since interoperability depends on it. More specifically, if if make a translation via an FO from one ontology to another, then I expect it not to change from one day to the next.
3) If I have a translation A to B, and a second translation B to C, then I can calculate a translation A to C. It goes not matter if B is an FO or some other ontology. Once I have a translation from a new ontology into one I use, then I have a translation to every ontology that I need to communicate with. In conventional computing, the use of a data exchange standard provides an advantage because each translator is a special purpose piece of software, and with N applications one needs N(N-1) translators. With an ontology, one needs only one general purpose reasoner, which can then be applied to any collection of translation axioms, including the concatination of multiple sets of translations. This is a major business reasons for looking at ontologies.
In theory, one could use conventional data standard translators concatenated, however there tends to be problems with differences in scope between the standards, and different practices with respect to the way the same facts are represented in the different standards. These translators are relatively inflexible, and concatinating translators is usually a recipie for data loss.
It is likely that different scopes for ontologies would cause the same sorts of loss along a chain of concatenated translations. Being able to run the translation though a common ontology could reduce this data loss. However, my understanding of Pat C's "primitives" is that they do not construe an ontology as such, but the "primatives" from which an ontology can be constructed, and that a latice of ontologies can be created using different combinations of "primitives". It would not, in general, be possible to translate from one ontology in the latice to another, although it would be possible to identify translatable subsets.
4) While in principle I cannot prove Pat C wrong, for a large number of reasons, I think Pat's approach is a red herring - to repeat points I made in previous e-mails:
a) There seem to be two approaches to language - that language talks about the world, and that language pictures the world. The culturally dominant assumption is that language pictures the world, and I also observed this in US SATs tests. I have noted a lack of understanding of the differences between the two views on the forum, which is not surprising, since it requires one to deconstruct one's cultural assumptions, something not on the curiculum of most science and engineering courses. These two approaches seem unlikely to agree on what primitives are useful.
b) If one looks at the use of colour terms, one observes that the systems of terms that occur in natural languages vary and are incompatible with one another. Having a primitive concept "colour" would not solve this problem, because it is the set of colours that is different. Moreover, where we cannot even agree on terms bound to our physiology, this reinforces the suspicion that there will be substantial differences in what we take as primitives.
c) We know from data modelling that there are some twenty to thirty types of data model incompatibility, most of which are, in principle, not resolvable. I do not see that these incompatibilities have been solved by ontologies.
d) The semantics of many business terms are defined by the processes of the business. The specification of primitives for the behaviour of organizations would be needed to specify the derived concepts, such as product, which are the foundation classes of exisiting standards.
e) Most dictionaries (I do not use Longman's, as it happens) are semiotic, in the sense they provide the starting point for procedures to infer the meaning of words.
5) While I am sympathetic to the goal of improving the ability to translate between applications, I do not see that having a single FO would help. Rather, I would expect to see a series of domain specific ontologies which provide detailed interoperation over that domain. The domains may be as extensive as the whole of manufacturing industry (as ISO 10303)

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