I think you have hit the nail on the head. The financial industry
does not lack precision. Not only simple monetary instruments
(whose meaning is as primitive as it gets) but more complex
financial instruments, whose meaning is grounded in contract and
The ambiguity sets in when various technical folks get hold of
what are originally precise terms, and shoe horn them into
various different databases with different data structures, put
unexpected new (but precise) terms into existing data fields that
also house data with different meanings, then devise message
schemes that get these from place to place, all without formal
reference to the original, existing, precise business meanings.
And without business review and oversight of what this data is
becoming in the arcane world of data, because they have left it
to the data geeks to deal with it. (02)
Until one day the world wakes up and realises that no-one knows
exactly what their exposure is to anyone else. (03)
On 04/01/2011 02:45, John F. Sowa wrote:
> Ron and Pat,
> People have been defining standard terminologies and specifications
> for many centuries before anybody taught them to use the "O" word.
>> I would think that local conformance concerns should be addressed by
>> extensions and processes around an internationally agreed ontology.
>> Having an unambiguous description of goods and services crossing borders
>> (customs, homeland security, environment, regulatory reporting, etc.)
>> would seem to provide a clear ROI for development of ontologies.
> Many *centuries* before computers were invented, governments and
> international standards bodies developed standards for navigation,
> geographical coordinates, time, units of measure, screw threads,
> wheat grains, chemical compounds, etc. Note that the terms "Julian"
> and "Gregorian" for dates refer to Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory.
>> I would think that a universal description of a financial instrument
>> would facilitate international trading of that security.
> The Sumerians baked those financial instruments into clay tablets
> many millennia ago. Their successors were doing international
> trade across the Silk Road from China to Europe and Africa over
> three millennia ago. The Phoenicians invented the alphabet to
> keep track of all the goods they were shipping from port to
> port around the Mediterranean to the British Isles.
> The modern definitions were established by the Italian bankers
> half a millennium ago. Their successors were using international
> electronic funds transfer by telegraph for many decades before the
> Internet came along.
>> The point I think is worth considering is that, unless one actually
>> has a common vocabulary to describe one's models, there is no way
>> to tell that they are in fact different.
> I certainly agree -- and so would Julius Caesar, Pope Gregory, and
> lots of Sumerians, Phoenicians, and Renaissance bankers.
> Before we try to sell them on the idea of using ontologies, we have
> to show them some advantage. They know their business far better than
> we do, they've been running it successfully for a long time, and we
> need to show some clear value in this newfangled O-stuff.
>> This suggests that the primitive elements may focus on observable
>> phenomena, and perhaps also on mathematical or graphical primitives
>> that can serve to build the mental models people use.
> Look at the words 'suggests', 'may, and 'perhaps'. That sounds far
> too speculative to convince people who have been keeping precise
> records about billions and trillions of dollars of commerce.
> I really hope that the work on logic and ontology can succeed.
> But it has to do something better than what people have been
> doing already. Vague suggestions that may perhaps do something
> someday aren't going to convince anybody.
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