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Re: [ontolog-forum] Meaning of "Context" [was: Ontology of Rough Sets]

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2011 12:57:12 -0500
Message-id: <4D39C8F8.6080404@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed and Tara,    (01)

I agree that the term 'context' has been used in highly confusing
and contradictory ways.  But I'd like to cite some papers that
may help clarify the issues.    (02)

> For "context", I would have said "domain of discourse".    (03)

I agree that the term 'domain of discourse' is used much more
precisely in logic.  But that is because logicians typically
bypass all the hard problems by fiat:    (04)

    Let D be the set of individuals in the domain of discourse...    (05)

But if you ask where the individuals came from, you get two kinds of
answers:  "I put them there" or "They're present in the situation."    (06)

The first answer is precise, but unhelpful, and the second one
is just as vague as "context".    (07)

> I would be delighted if someone could provide one or more precise
> definitions of "context".    (08)

John McCarthy has written about contexts for years, and he has had
several PhD students write dissertations on the topic.  But he
admitted that he was not completely satisfied with any of the
versions.  See, for example, his "Notes on Formalizing Contexts":    (09)

    http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/context3/context3.html    (010)

Following is a paper I presented at an AAAI Symposium on Context,
which was organized by one of McCarthy's former students:    (011)

    Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics of Contexts    (012)

That was in 1995, but I used similar definitions in my KR book
in 2000, and I developed some of the ideas further in later papers.
Following is one from 2004:    (013)

    Laws, Facts, and Contexts:
    Foundations for Multimodal Reasoning    (014)

And following is another article from 2006:    (015)

    Worlds, Models, and Descriptions    (016)

John    (017)

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