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Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantic Enterprise Architecture - Interoperability?

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2010 09:32:14 -0400
Message-id: <4C8B84DE.3040603@xxxxxxxxxxx>
This thread has been drawn out very long, but I'd like to comment
on two remarks by two different Davids:    (01)

David Eddy:    (02)

> For me  speaking for all the maintenance programmers scratching their
> heads about what some cryptic label means  "semantics" is the process
> whereby I can easily, quickly & reliably determine that CD & CDE
> actually mean the same thing (CODE).
> So far I do not see how logic, formal or otherwise, can help.
> I believe it can only by definition.    (03)

Dave McComb:    (04)

> So my favorite term with multiple meanings: "mole" becomes mammal: mole,
> derma:mole, CIA:mole, chem:mole, coastal-nav:mole, and Mex-cook:mole    (05)

These two quotations are consistent, but they address different points:    (06)

  1. DE is talking about the process that leads from ambiguous words
     in ordinary English to a reliable determination of which ones
     "mean the same thing."  He observes that it's easy and quick
     for people, but that logic, by itself, can't help.    (07)

  2. DMcC says that after the words have been properly classified,
     the formal notation can distinguish them by a prefix (which
     identifies some namespace, context, or language game).    (08)

I agree with both.  And I'd like to quote three of the famous
epigrams by Alan Perlis:    (09)

  79. A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one
      believe in God.    (010)

  80. Prolonged contact with the computer turns mathematicians into
      clerks and vice versa.    (011)

102. One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.    (012)

http://www-pu.informatik.uni-tuebingen.de/users/klaeren/epigrams.html    (013)

By #79, we can agree with DE that the easy process will need something
else instead of or in addition to formal logic.    (014)

By #80, you need to be both a formal mathematician and an obsessive-
ompulsive clerk in order to keep track of all the details.    (015)

By #102, the process of going from informal labels in natural
language to the formal prefixes used by mathematicians and clerks
can't be done purely by some formal mathematical algorithm.    (016)

The starting point in this process is ordinary words like 'mole'
in various kinds of NL documents (which can be as short as a
label on a can of soup or a comment in a program).    (017)

The resources designed by lexicographers, such as dictionaries,
terminologies, thesauruses, and things like WordNet, identify
many of the different word senses, which WN calls synsets.    (018)

But as many people have noted, none of those resources are
complete, no two of them identify exactly the same senses,
and none of them can or should be called formal ontologies.    (019)

There has been a half-century of R & D in AI and comp. ling.
devoted to the intermediate stages between lexical resources
and formal logics, and the technology is getting better.
In fact, the latest computer work is coming close to the
level of human tagging.    (020)

But there are two reasons why those tags will never be exactly
correct:  (1) most humans aren't sufficiently precise and
obsessive-compulsive mathematician-clerks, and (2) many
people -- especially poets, comedians, and everybody else --
often use words in a way that have more than one meaning
at the same time.    (021)

John Sowa
_________________________________________________________________    (022)

PS:  As a closing thought, I'd like to quote another epigram:    (023)

28. Around computers it is difficult to find the correct unit of
     time to measure progress. Some cathedrals took a century to
     complete. Can you imagine the grandeur and scope of a program
     that would take as long?    (024)

Yes.  Look at the operating system for IBM's latest mainframes.
It has taken almost half a century to evolve from OS/360 to the
present.  It is certainly impressive, it is rock solid compared
to the operating systems that run on PCs, it has a large scope,
I'm not sure that anyone would use the term 'grandeur', but I
am sure that it will still be running some mission-critical
software when it reaches the century mark in 2064.    (025)

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