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[ontolog-forum] Using controlled natural languages for ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 05 Mar 2011 13:08:56 -0500
Message-id: <4D727C38.2030106@xxxxxxxxxxx>
In some discussions for the Ontology Summit in April, I mentioned the
use of controlled English for specifying and/or explaining ontologies.    (01)

Following is an objection to a point I made:    (02)

> Sure, you could use a highly formalistic English to be much more
> precise, but by then it may be so verbose as to be harder to understand
> than a formal lang depicted in a good visualization/exploration tool.    (03)

In response, I would like to cite the example of Naproche (NAtural-
language PROof CHecker):    (04)

    http://naproche.net/    (05)

 From that web page:
> The Naproche system accepts a controlled but rich subset of ordinary
> mathematical language including TeX-style typeset formulas and
> transforms them into formal statements. Linguistic techniques are
> adapted to allow for common grammatical constructs and to extract
> mathematically relevant implicit information about hypotheses and
> conclusions. Finally, automated theorem provers are used to prove
> the correctness of the input text.    (06)

See the examples and publications on their web site.  The language
they use is English as written in a mathematical textbook, and they
allow any special symbols or expressions that can be written in
TeX notation.    (07)

The English is very readable, it does allow some symbols and
expressions to be embedded in the English, and it is no more
verbose that the explanations in a typical textbook.    (08)

I am not recommending controlled English as the *only* notation
for ontology, but it can be a very helpful supplement.  I also
like diagrams, and I would definitely support diagrams as
a supplementary representation.    (09)

Important point:  With controlled English, the comments and the
implementation can always be kept in *exact* correspondence because
one can be derived from (and/or checked with) the other.    (010)

Adam Pease, for example, was originally skeptical about using
controlled English for SUMO, but he later agreed that it was
very helpful.    (011)

John    (012)

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