This is much needed, John, and it is of concern to other communities,
too -- some of which have important overlapping interests and others of
which are simply reinventing past thinking. So let me add a few points: (01)
1. The Library and Information Science (LIS)/Knowledge Orgnization
community has many common interests with the KR community. Note such
observations as, "The mapping of concepts is an extremely important part
of our work in the network environment." ("Taxonomy and Knowledge
Organization." by Jan Herd, Science, Technology & Business Division, The
Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/flicc/cm/taxscript.pdf) (02)
2. It may be useful, at times, to use the phrase _computer ontology_ to
distinguish it from the study of being. (See Wikipedia.) Or is "formal
ontology" sufficient for that purpose? (03)
3. Should _taxonomy_ always mean a single-parent hierarchy (as in _facet_)? (04)
4. At some point, it is also important -- for business in general -- for
this community to make clear distinctions among disciplines that are
perceived as closely related by the "outside" world, including the
definitions you provide in "The Role of Logic and Ontology In Language
and Reasoning." of _syntax_, _semantics_ (and its subdivisions), and
5. _Concepts_ need to be distinguished not only from _terms_ but also
from _subjects_ and _topics_. (06)
6. Is _controlled vocabulary_ the broadest/loosest description? Or is it
_lexicon_ (as Doug Skuce observed)? Or simply _vocabulary_? (07)
Phil Murray (08)
John F. Sowa wrote:
> I'm starting a new thread because this subject cuts across numerous
> threads, debates, disagreements, and confusions on this list.
> We have all agreed that the words and phrases of natural languages
> are related to the formal definitions of an ontology. But many of
> the disagreements arise from confusing one with the other. I'll
> start with some observations (not exhaustive, but enough to start):
> 1. Whenever anybody talks about a formal definition in some version
> of logic, the thing we're discussing is a formal ontology.
> 2. But whenever anyone says that a formal definition in logic is
> not required, we're talking about a terminology.
> 3. But sometimes, there are confusions about what kind of definition
> is appropriate. Many things that look formal should actually be
> called terminologies, and some terminologies can become formal
> ontologies with minor additions -- for example, the terminology
> for chemical compounds.
> 4. Things like WordNet and Roget's Thesaurus group words together
> in "synsets" or clusters of closely related terms. But the
> only definitions occur in the "glosses" or comments, which are
> stated only in natural language. They are terminologies, not
> 5. Many terminologies about natural phenomena depend on cutting up
> a continuous range of variation into a discrete set of categories.
> Examples: river, stream, creek, brook, rivulet; tree, bush,
> sapling; puddle, pond, lake, sea; ... Such terms cannot have
> precise boundaries.
> 6. Other terms depend on culture and technology, which are always
> developing, mixing, and merging. Not so long ago, there was a
> sharp distinction between a computer, a telephone, a television,
> a typewriter, and a book. Today, the categories are blurred
> and likely to swallow up other formerly disjoint categories.
> 7. Finally, even when we have a formal ontology with detailed
> axioms and definitions, the formal definitions will have
> associated terms in natural languages -- examples include
> the formal definitions in mathematics, science, and
> engineering -- even some businesses, such as banking.
> Much of the talk about interoperability can be confused by any
> or all of the above issues. Some of the issues, such as the
> APIs or the shape of a plug, require precise definitions.
> But many of them depend on terminologies for which very loose
> definitions are sufficient.
> It's also important to note that some differences, such as APIs
> and plugs, can become interoperable by inserting an adapter, but
> others can't.
> Suggestion: Whenever disagreements arise, ask whether the cause
> of the disagreement is a confusion between a terminology or a
> formal ontology.
> John Sowa
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