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Re: [ontolog-forum] scale / enumeration ontology?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2011 11:53:32 -0500
Message-id: <4D7A538C.3030300@xxxxxxxx>

Toby Considine wrote:
> Unitsml also at oasis is reaching for a comprehensive solution to all 
> physical measurements.
>    (01)

Being careful, UnitsML (which NIST leads) is primarily about 
standardizing _representation_ of measurements in HTML and XML 
resources, and tracing unit identifiers to a standard.  It is not an 
ontology for measurement concepts, although it is supportive.    (02)

Adam Pease wrote:    (03)

> SUMO has a comprehensive ontology of weights and measures.
><http://sigma.ontologyportal.org:4010/sigma/Browse.jsp?kb=SUMO&lang=EnglishLanguage&flang=SUO-KIF&term=UnitOfMeasure>    (04)

In a similar way, the DOLCE ontology has a very good model of measurements:
although Niccola Guarino will probably insist (modestly) that it is not 
an expert work.    (05)

These models are different, because they take different viewpoints on 
measurement.    (06)

The UCUM standard from Healthcare Level 7 (HL7)
is not an ontology, but it could easily be rendered as one.  It takes a 
third view -- the idea of 'units calculus', which is pragmatically 
useful, but doesn't capture the theory of measurement.    (07)

I would say that the choice of ontology for units of measure may depend 
very much on the intended use and the kind of inferences you want to 
make.  In particular, there is a big difference between the 
'specification and tolerance' usages and the 'measurement and 
uncertainty' usages.  A medical prescrption is a specification, with 
some standard pharmaceutical tolerance for variation in the actual 
medication units.  A toxic agents screen is a set of measurements made 
from a tissue sample, with some limitations on accuracy (uncertainty) 
introduced by the measurement mechanism.  When you compare a measurement 
to a specification, you may be talking about comparing intervals or 
threshold values.     (08)

But if all you want to compare is mileage driven against specified 
intervals for preventive maintenance, these careful distinctions are 
irrelevant, and the UCUM approach is as good as any.  It supports 
conversion of kilometres to miles, and it really doesn't matter if the 
conversion factor used is 1.6km/mi, even though that is only within 1%.    (09)

You may also want to look at MORFEO, which discusses some of these issues    (010)

http://forge.morfeo-project.org/wiki_en/index.php/Units_of_measurement_ontology    (011)

In short, there is no shortage of work in this area, because every 
serious ontology encounters the need for describing measurements at some 
point.     (012)

(The QUOMOS standards activity is designed to get the recognized experts 
in specification and measurement standards to produce a well-founded 
base ontology with which both of the specialized approaches are upward 
compatible.  The object is primarily to preempt standardization and 
misuse of less expert ontologies for units and measures, and to prevent 
erroneous inferences from ontologies that couple different views of 
units and measures.  But it is a standards process, and it won't finish 
quickly.)    (013)

-Ed    (014)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                Cel: +1 240-672-5800    (015)

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