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

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 07:20:56 -0500
Message-id: <4D7E0828.3010203@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew and Anders,    (01)

> Yes, but the different departments need to talk to each other, and this
> is most efficiently done with a "common language" which need not be "ideal"
> for any of them, but which each is able to translate into and out of. What
> we found in Shell was, that as you did this successively, there was
> considerable advantage in giving up your own "language" and increasingly
> sharing fewer more common ones.    (02)

> An interesting dimension at play here; how much centralisation is
> needed  in a corporation with extensive work specialisation.    (03)

I agree with both of you.    (04)

The engineers, for example, need to consider all the details about
how components interact.  Manufacturing has to focus on those details
relevant to assembling the parts.  Finance can treat each product as
a "black box" with a focus on just the costs and revenues.  Sales
focuses on the features the users see and how they compare with the
competition.  Shipping treats the units as black boxes, whose relevant
features are size, weight, fragility, and perishability.    (05)

All the departments need to use the same terminology about the products,
including part numbers for components.  But that is a requirement for
a *terminology* with very few axioms that are shared among departments.    (06)

> Typically commonality is deemed as beneficial, but sometimes an ad hoc
> approach is of benefit depending on ones (investment) horizon.
>http://www.workem.com/rl/fesa/fragments/modeling/LargeScaleSystems/ls_centralisation/files/page42-mot_artifact_canonical.jpg    (07)

I agree with the diagram, but I would change the label "ad hoc" to
"specialized".  The engineers, for example, may have a very general
ontology for their designs.  But that ontology may have much more in
common with the ontologies used by competitors in the industry than
with other departments in the same company.    (08)

The same is true of all the other departments.  People in the finance
department share more common background with financial people in other
companies or even other industries than they do with the engineering, 
sales, or shipping departments in their own company.    (09)

Summary:  Terminology is the foundation for sharing information among
people (and computers) with different specialties.  Ontologies with
detailed axioms suitable for complex reasoning are used only in a
narrow specialty.  The specialized ontologies are more likely to be
sharable across different companies than with different departments
in the same company.  (But competition may prevent such sharing.)    (010)

John    (011)

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