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Re: [ontolog-forum] FW: [ontology-summit] Quality

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Matthew West" <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2010 07:43:41 -0000
Message-id: <4d09c314.8709d80a.164f.6bc0@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Dear Jack,


Well actually I had decided that your twisting of my counter-example was so transparently desperate that it did not even warrant a reply, and Chris was doing an entirely adequate demolition job. But if you insist...


Quality as binary only works when there is a clear binary specification that you can say something meets or does not meet. Software is rarely that simple. If we assume a piece of software has no bugs that prevent it from functioning at all, it is usually the case that it is still less than perfect in the way that it performs and supports the business process that the business wishes to use it for. This rarely prevents the software from being used, but typically increases the effort in terms of work-arounds that the business has to employ, i.e. it increases the cost of ownership. Given several software packages that nominally support the same business function, they will vary in the degree to which these work arounds are necessary, and thus vary in the cost of their use.


Business people will consider that these systems vary in quality, and if you tried to tell them that quality was binary and because they all met some nominal specification they had the same quality they would think you were a quality geek and off your rocker.




Matthew West                           

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From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Christopher Menzel
Sent: 15 December 2010 22:42
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] FW: [ontology-summit] Quality


On Dec 15, 2010, at 3:18 PM, Jack Ring wrote:

(Moved from ontology-summit)


Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>               

December 15, 2010 10:35:44 AM MST

Wrote ---

This just isn't relevant. Matthew provided a simple counterexample to your assertion that "quality is binary": a case where there are five (equally severe) bugs in a program and four are fixed is obviously an improvement in quality short of perfection. Case closed; quality isn't binary (unless you mean something idiosyncratic by "quality"). Your pointing out that you can modify the conditions of his example in such a way that it is no longer a counterexample is irrelevant. Suppose you claim that all the balls in the bin are red or green. If Matthew reaches in and pulls out a blue one, it is no defense of your claim to reach in and pull out a red or green one.



I have reviewed Matthew's original post and do not find "(equally severe)" anywhere. So I will let Matthew speak for himself and point out to you that "severe" is a Highly Ambiguous term (or will ambiguous suffice?)


You're still missing the point.  True, Matthew did not expressly say "equally severe", but he was obviously purporting to give you a counterexample to "quality is binary", so it is incumbent upon us as charitable readers to interpret his words so as to make the best sense of them in the context.  But look, let's suppose (what is wildly untrue) that Matthew is so thick that he wouldn't have realized that in order for the scenario he proffered to serve as a counterexample, the program bugs would have to be roughly equal in severity (and of sufficient severity to impede the program's intended function).  It is STILL the case that the tidied up version that I provided IS a counterexample and THAT — namely, that counterexamples to "quality is binary" exist — was the point.  To alter the analogy: Suppose you claim that all the balls in the bin are red or green. And suppose Matthew, poor color-blind fellow, reaches in and grabs what he thinks is a blue ball when in fact it is green.  But then suppose I reach in and pull out an actual blue ball.  It is no defense of your claim that "ball-in-the-bin-colors are binary" to point out Matthew's error.

Also, pls be aware that "quality is binary" is not my assertion. It is a report about what's going on in the real world.


People give false/misleading/confused/incoherent reports of what's going on in "the real world" all the time.  So what?  We've simply stumbled into another one.

If you choose to present your view of quality in a case for use by the Ontology Summit with business people then don't be surprised if the audience reaction is 'just another software weenie.'


Ah, the trusty ad hominem.  Last resort of the man bereft of arguments.


Chris Menzel


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