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Re: [ontolog-forum] the Zachman Enterprise Ontology

To: "doug@xxxxxxxxxx" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:06:39 -0400
Message-id: <4E94CBFF.6010708@xxxxxxxx>

doug foxvog wrote:
> On Tue, October 11, 2011 11:09, marc.l.walker@xxxxxx said:
>> I was asked a question the other day and as I don't think I reached a
>> satisfactory answer  I thought I would seek more learned opinion and post
>> the question to this board. The question I was asked was "what does it
>> mean when the new Zachman framework declares itself as an ontology and
>> specifically the Enterprise Ontology" and to quote the Zachman.com website
>> "the Framework is the ontology for describing the Enterprise"
> Unfortunately, there are multiple definitions of the word "ontology" in IT.
> The now standard one is "a formal, explicit specification of a shared
> conceptualization".      (01)

'now standard' according to whom?  Citation, please.
I believe that definition makes a UML model an 'ontology', and it may 
make an NODE definition an 'ontology'.    (02)

> A far weaker one, "an explicit specification of
> conceptualization", does not require an ontology to be logically formal
> or for a shared conceptualization.      (03)

Note that Doug inserted 'logically' before the 'formal' in the cited 
"standard" definition.  And I am not sure that "a (logically) formal, 
explicit specification" means the same thing as "an explicit 
specification in a formal logic language" or "explicit specification in 
a language suitable for automated reasoning".  Some people can't say 
what they mean, but standards writers are skilled at saying something 
that has all the interpretations needed to validate the intended 
behaviors of all the contributors, however diverse those behaviors may be.     (04)

> The new Zachman framework fits the second definition, but not the first.
>       (05)

If you understand how they are importantly different.  I don't.    (06)

> Then new framework is basically a cross product of the standard set of
> media questions (as a vector) crossed with a set of "audience perspectives"
> http://www.zachman.com/images/ZI_PIcs/ZF3.0.jpg with both the columns and
> rows being mapped to different words so that the cell names and names of
> nodes and links in graphs for that node can be generated by appending the
> term from the audience perspective to the term from the question word.
> Column Name   Cell Modifier    Node name     Link name
> Who           Responsibility   Role          Work Product
> What          Inventory        Entity        Relationship
> Where         Distribution     Location      Connection
> When          Timing           Interval      Moment
> How           Process          Transform     Input/Output
> Why           Motivation       End           Means
> Row  Name     Cell Name        Node & Link modifier
> (Perspective)
> Business
>   Management  Definition       Business
> Architect     Representation   System
> Engineer      Specification    Technology
> Technician    Configuration    Tool
> Enterprise    Instantiations   Operations
> Executive     Identification      List of "Types" instead of graph
> E.g. the cell in the Architect Perspective row and How column is named
> "Process Representation" and has a graph of "System Transform" nodes
> connected by "System Input/Output" links.  The cell at the intersection
> of What and Executive Perspective is named "Inventory Identification"
> and has a list of "Inventory Types".
> This is certainly "an explicit specification of conceptualization",
> but it is not a logically formal specification.
>       (07)

Well, it seems that one could thus construct a perfectly valid OWL 
ontology, of the kind Pat Hayes once described as 'blue', i.e., having 
no objectProperties.  With a little more insight, one could thus 
construct an ontology with all the power of an entity-relationship model 
(which should come as no surprise).  Why is it not an 'ontology'?     (08)

Do we perhaps have some unspecified agenda for the choice of language?  
Could it be that we only want to call it an 'ontology' if it can be 
used, either alone or with some readily available extension, to make 
some useful inferences?  If it is captured in OWL or RDF, but not 
clearly useful in making inferences anyone cares about, is it still an 
'ontology'?  (If a tree falls in the forest, and no ecological agency 
hears it, will it still be a valid basis for a grant proposal?)    (09)

We have had this discussion before, and it will continue as long as 
'ontology' remains a buzzword associated with either market or research 
funding.  Zachman's usage is the proof that it is now a 'buzzword'.  5 
years ago, no business analyst would have ever said 'ontology' to his 
peers or customers (or at least not without a sneer).    (010)

If Zachman wants to call his newly revised version of the famous 
Framework an 'ontology', why argue?  At an Ontology Summit a few years 
back, Natasha Noy observed that most of the published OWL ontologies on 
the Web were no more informative than UML models -- all of the concepts 
were 'primitive'.  Substituting E-R for UML, is Zachman's oeuvre any 
different?    (011)

Marc Walker asked:    (012)

>> So what does something have to be to call itself an ontology and perhaps
>> more so in the commercial sector.     (013)

Something that is a concept model, and something whose author believes 
will gain wider acceptance if it calls itself an 'ontology'.
If we had narrowly defined the term, John Zachman would not use it, but 
few would care about those who were able to.    (014)

>> Don't get me wrong as I have a lot of
>> respect for the work John Zachman has done and I have used the framework
>> on several occasions as an aid to strategy and architecture.  I was
>> unfortunately unable to say to my colleague that I thought it represented
>> a formal ontology in the way I am familiar with.  I explained that I
>> worked for three years on an ontology that had undergone over 10 years of
>> research, testing  and construction in Protégé and that it was formally
>> accepted by public bodies in the UK and is in active use in the health
>> sector. There are other major ontologies that have undergone similar if
>> not more effort to construct. Yet without that formal approach how are you
>> able to depend upon the model?
>>         (015)

What do you "depend upon the model" for?  The needs of the application 
motivates the rigour.
Then ask yourself:  How rigourous does Zachman's model need to be for 
its intended application:  enterprise architecture analysis?  What, if 
anything, will "depend upon the model"?  How would the ability to 
resolve inconsistencies and determine completeness and categorize 
instances affect the uses of the Zachman model?     (016)

Walker and his colleagues may feel that allowing Zachman's effort to 
share the same term with the product of their painstaking formal methods 
somehow diminishes their work, but they should also remember that their 
target audience can tell the difference between a 'rotgut red' ontology 
and a 'grand cru' ontology, even without 'appelation controllee'.  Like 
wine, not all ontologies are of the same quality, and the people who 
really depend on them know which are which.    (017)

The value of an ontology is ultimately in its ability to satisfy a need 
of its user community, not in the label on the resource.  Those that are 
weak and inadequate for their purpose will be rejected, possibly after 
causing harm to the unwary and ill-advised who chose them.  That is a 
kind of social Darwinism.  But weak ontologies may well be adequate to 
the weak purposes of many of their users.  For similar reasons, poor 
wines still have a market.    (018)

Walker's conclusions, and Doug's comments suggest that we are of a 
common mind as to the intent of Zachman's use of 'ontology'.     (019)

But I believe that the form of an ontology (the language in which it is 
written, and what other ontologies it incorporates) is only important 
with respect to what the users can do with it.  The reason why OWL is 
better than UML or German for capturing a given concept model is that 
there are tools that can process the OWL form to produce useful 
information of a particular kind, and that information is valuable to 
the target audience for the model.  Conversely, UML may be better than 
OWL if the objective is to produce information of a different kind, and 
German may be better if the object is solely to clarify distinctions in 
concepts for a particular audience.  With respect to Zachman's ontology, 
and any other for all that, "by their fruits shall ye know them."    (020)

-Ed    (021)

"Assuming the design of the enterprise becomes more disciplined, it 
will need a different level of person engaged (both customer and 
supplier). But I guess they won't be hired until the "PowerPoint 
consultant" has first made the business case."
  -- Graham Berrisford    (022)

>> So our discussion lead to several conclusions;
>> 1/ Perhaps the Zachman Framework is enough in itself to be called an
>> ontology as why should it have to be developed with an ontology editor and
>> undergo formal construction and reviews and acceptance by a public body
>> (maybe it has and this is not in the public domain). It is not the kind of
>> ontology developed in the science fields and used for example in the
>> health sector.  Zachman International is a private company and thus is
>> free to declare what it wants.
> It doesn't fit the most standard definition of an IT ontology.  It does
> fit a far looser definition, but that does not mean that it is useful
> for logical processing or the Semantic Web.
>> 2/ The Zachman framework is more of a metamodel and collection of concepts
>> that a company then licences the Framework to build their own enterprise
>> ontology. This of course places all of the hard work on the company unless
>> Zachman International plans to provide an OWL or Frames ontology  in the
>> future.
> Sure, it is a metamodel.  I'm not sure what can be licensed or not.
>> 3/ Finally, a more controversial conclusion that this is not enough and is
>> more of a marketing ploy to capitalise on the increasing interest in the
>> commercial sector in ontologies and the semantic web.
> I am shocked that someone would consider that an entity in the commercial
> sector would use a marketing ploy.  8)#
> -- doug foxvog
>> Perhaps I am viewing this incorrectly and being too formal in my thinking.
>> I would be grateful for any thoughts that might provide a better
>> conclusion.
>> Thanks,
>> Marc
> =============================================================
> doug foxvog    doug@xxxxxxxxxx   http://ProgressiveAustin.org
> "I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great
> initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."
>     - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
> =============================================================
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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    (024)

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 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (025)

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