Very interesting work, but I think that such a powerful framework is not really
needed for this particular use case. Since the time period of that work, the
financial sector has been steadily adopting the XBRL standard for financial
reporting, which indeed provides a mechanism for a definition of every reported
item to be specified through a URI. In XBRL those definitions are called
"taxonomies", and simple XPath expressions can be used to define formulas for
calculating values of various item types (called "concepts") from other items.
This clearly can be implemented in Prolog, but can also be easily implemented
with just an XSLT engine. (01)
The solution to point 4 below will have to be for people to stop using numbers
without a precise definition. As to point 5, no we shouldn't expect them to
"highlight the bad stuff", but as XBRL-based reporting is mandated by a growing
number of regulatory agencies (the SEC is actively pursuing it), they will
nonetheless be required to fully disclose it. They will be free to continue
including a "pro forma earnings" item in their reports, but will have to be
very explicit about exactly what is and is not included under that item. (02)
----- Original Message -----
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Friday, March 12, 2010 8:38 am
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Re Foundation ontology, CYC, and Mapping
To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> (03)
> Thanks for the citations.
> I just wanted to make a few observations:
> SB> Apologies for slow response to a couple of requests for sources
> > on semantic incompatibilities. This is the table we generated
> > internally, based partly on older database work...
> >  Aykut Firat, Information Integration Using Contextual Knowledge
> > and Ontology Merging. MIT (Sloan School of Management) Ph. D
> thesis, > September 2003.
> For anyone who might like a 6-page article by the same author and
> his thesis advisors:
> Financial Information Integration In the Presence of Equational
> Ontological Conflicts
> Some excerpts from that article and observations about them:
> > In this paper we first define what we mean by equational
> > ontological conflicts and then describe a new approach,
> > using Constraint Logic Programming and abductive reasoning...
> 1. First observation: Note that their methods of representation
> and reasoning are far richer and more expressive than anything
> that could be done with just RDFS and OWL.
> > The likelihood of a single international accounting standard coming
> > to dominate anytime soon is quite slim. This is further complicated
> > by the complexities and localities involved in the accounting
> > practices of different countries (e.g. the UK views the proposed
> > standards as actually reducing the quality of their corporate
> > reporting.)
> 2. Don't expect that any proposed standard will magically solve all
> problems -- it might even make some things worse.
> > ... when we collected Price Earnings Ratios for a specific company,
> > Daimler-Benz, from several financial sources on the same day the
> > numbers differed significantly, because of the differences in the
> > interpretation of earnings (see Figure 1.) A closer examination
> > reveals that these variations are not caused by erroneous
> reporting, > but attributable to definitional differences among
> data sources.
> 3. If they find such problems in data gathered about a single company
> on a single day, just imagine the likelihood of deriving reliable
> results from billions of triples defined by untold numbers of people
> over an extended period of time.
> > ... ontological conflicts in accounting methods are quite
> widespread > not only between different countries, but also within
> the same
> > country... For example, the Wall Street Journal and S&P use
> different > methods to calculate the P/E Ratios for the Standard &
> Poor's > 500-stock index.
> 4. Attaching the URI of the definitional method might help resolve
> > this problem. But note the following concern:
> > ... problems occur once companiesí financial numbers, crunched
> > by analysts, enter a vast information food chain, where they
> > are repeated, often without explanation, in hundreds of news
> > sources, and end up being used out of context.
> 5. As one example, companies deliberately sweep many qualifications
> under the rug by using the term "Pro Forma earnings," which is
> defined as "earnings before bad stuff." Does anyone expect them
> to highlight the bad stuff with a URI?
> > We have implemented ECOIN using the Eclipse Prolog Engine, its
> > extended CHR library, and the Java programming language.
> 6. Note that they are using Prolog to do their complex reasoning,
> and that there is a version of Prolog available on the widely
> used Eclipse platform for software development.
> Prolog is an industrial-strength tool that is widely used by
> government agencies and credit bureaus (Experian, for example).
> Versions of Prolog are buried inside many software packages,
> including Microsoft Windows. A version of Prolog is the basis
> for Wolfram's Mathematica system, which is used by Microsoft's
> Bing search engine for processing complex queries.
> At VivoMind, we translate RDF(S) and OWL to a high-speed version
> of Prolog and run circles around the native tools for those
> Bottom line: The tools and notations currently available for
> ontology development are very useful as far as they go. But
> we are still at the beginning of where we need to go in the
> development of semantic technology.
> John Sowa
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