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Re: [ontolog-forum] Quote for the day -- KR and KM

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2011 13:13:39 -0500
Message-id: <4D24B4D3.5090401@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sjir and Ed,    (01)

I copied some of Sjir's comments from both the Quote thread
and the Conceptual Schema thread:    (02)

> ... the conceptual modelling progress made in the seventies  > and eighties 
>in the semantic database research and application
> community is not easily available to the ontology community.    (03)

> It may be useful to quote a few concept definitions of ISO TR9007.
> 100 Percent principle:
> All relevant general static and dynamic aspects, i.e. all rule,
> laws, etc., of the universe of discourse should be described in
> the conceptual schema...
> Conceptualization principle:
> A conceptual schema should only include conceptually relevant aspects,
> both static and dynamic of the universe of discourse, thus excluding
> all aspects of (external and internal) data representation,
> physical data organization and access as well as all aspects of
> particular external user representation such as message formats,
> data structures, etc.
> Conceptual schema:
> A consistent collection of sentences expressing the necessary propositions
> that hold for a universe of discourse.    (04)

I have a strong sympathy for the work on the conceptual schema
from the 1970s to the 1980s.  In the 1990s, I participated in the
ISO work on trying to revive the idea.    (05)

Unfortunately, all the committees that worked on conceptual schema
standards terminated with technical reports:  ANSI/SPARC in 1978,
ISO in 1987, and ISO in 1999.    (06)

I would also add that the SUO group (in the early 2000s) failed to
produce a standard for ontology, despite being chartered by IEEE.    (07)

The W3C work on the Semantic Web generated a lot of syntax, but
very little semantics.    (08)

I don't believe in coincidences.    (09)

> My experience is that KR technologies are still largely impractical for
> business applications, but precisely because, apart from the work of
> people like Martin Hepp, there is very little formalized knowledge that
> is available off-the-shelf.  As a consequence, it takes a large
> investment to get anything useful out.    (010)

I agree.  This is also part of the reason why the standards projects
for a conceptual schema or ontology failed.    (011)

> Everyone agrees that analysis and engineering (knowledge and otherwise)
> is about what is relevant to the problem you are asked to solve.  The
> problem for ontology development is that you need a lot of foundation
> before you can build the relevant hut.    (012)

I believe this point is also significant for the above issues.    (013)

> We need to get the foundational ontologies out there, so that each
> project doesn't have to build them on the job.  And we need to
> pick and choose our targets of opportunity carefully, in order to
> establish credibility and encourage further investment.    (014)

That would be useful.  But if that were sufficient, Cyc today would
be bigger than Google.  Cyc has the largest ontology on earth, and
they have exported more of it to Open Source than anybody else has
created.  They're also doing some good work on applications.  But
after 26 years, they're just piddling along compared to more recent
companies like Google, Facebook, etc.    (015)

> Unfortunately, the semantics of conceptual schema languages and
> the semantics of FOL languages are significantly different in
> ways that make it hard to construct an FOL ontology from a
> conceptual schema, and impossible (I think) to construct
> an arbitrary FOL ontology in a conceptual schema language.    (016)

No.  That misses the point by almost 180 degrees.    (017)

The two fundamental problems are (a) knowledge acquisition and
(b) the integration of that knowledge with the software tools.
The ANSI/SPARC three-schema idea was good, but they didn't
address knowledge acquisition and integration.    (018)

And as Sjir said, the W3C ignored those issues completely.    (019)

But I also believe that some current research and prototypes are
making progress on those issues.  Following is a presentation
in which I discussed them:    (020)

    Future directions in semantic systems    (021)

The reason why knowledge acquisition is so important is that
the middle and lower levels of the ontology grow exponentially
faster than the upper level.  No matter how big the upper level
may be, it can only contribute a small part of the total that
is needed for any significant application.    (022)

John    (023)

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