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Re: [ontolog-forum] Using controlled natural languages for ontology

To: Ali Hashemi <ali@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2011 21:06:32 -0500
Message-id: <4D7AD528.8060407@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ali,    (01)

We are in such violent agreement that I am frustrated that you felt
the need to tell me these things.    (02)

> What I was trying to bring attention to is that a lot of work is being
> focused on getting the SME to express their intuitions directly in the
> logical language (whatever its syntax).
> Sometimes (nay, often?), the intuitions that might be necessary for the
> axiomatization of a particular domain are not easily accessible -
> whatever the syntax - to the SME.    (03)

Yes, yes, yes, and of course.    (04)

> What I am getting at is that there are many logical constructs
> or axioms which are integral in the axiomatization / formalization
> process, which just aren't necessarily intuitive to the SME,
> no matter how we render the syntax.    (05)

Yes, indeed.  Syntax is the *smallest* part of the problem.    (06)

> In contrast, these SMEs are often quite intimately familiar
> with the models that satisfy their desired axioms.    (07)

Here is where I would qualify the statement.  They be intuitively
familiar, but they haven't been able to verbalize their ideas
adequately in any form.    (08)

There are two extremes among experts in any field:  (1) Highly intuitive
experts who can solve problems, but they cannot explain how they got
their ideas.  (2) Highly verbal experts who can explain every detail
in absolute clarity in their native language.  Most of them,
however, fall somewhere in between.    (09)

Some of those highly intuitive experts may even be programmers
and mathematicians.  One example is the famous mathematician
Srinivasa Ramanujan.  (Check Wikipedia for a quick reminder.)
He was brilliant.  He could solve incredibly complex problems
that nobody else could solve, but he couldn't explain them.    (010)

> CNL's and other approaches to making the language of logic
> more accessible to SME's is indeed an important and integral
> part of gaining wider acceptance and usage of ontologies.
> Unfortunately, it is only part of the story, and misses a whole
> slew of cases where, no matter the syntax, some concepts just
> just aren't readily accessible to an SME with only a modicum
> or intermediate level of training in knowledge representation.    (011)

Yes, of course.  There was absolutely no way to get Ramanujan
to verbalize his knowledge -- in any notation.  He could not write
down a proof in mathematical notation, nor could he explain it in
any natural language.  He just solved the problems in his head
and wrote down the answers -- and he was always right.    (012)

Of course, very few SMEs are at the level of Ramanujan.
But there are many who can't explain what they do.  For these,
the KE must tease the ideas out of them bit by painful bit.
And CNLs can be helpful in having the KE generate and explain
the verbalization to the SMEs.    (013)

Fundamental principle:  the primary purpose of the CNL is not
for the SME to verbalize the ontology, but for the SME to read
and verify the verbalization created by the KE.    (014)

John    (015)

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