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Re: [ontolog-forum] Constructs, primitives, terms

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Paul Tyson <phtyson@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2012 19:52:16 -0600
Message-id: <1330998736.5848.14.camel@tristan>
On Mon, 2012-03-05 at 09:08 -0500, John F. Sowa wrote:
> Doug,
> I agree with everything you say about EFT and EDI.
> I was only using that as an example of what happens when you take
> terms that are defined in a very general sense, and use them in
> specialized contexts -- especially with *different* specializations
> in contexts that were developed independently.
> To state the problem more generally:
> Base vocabulary V:  A collection of terms defined precisely at a level
> of detail sufficient for interpreting messages that use those terms
> in a general context C.
> System A:  A computational system that imports vocabulary V and uses
> the definitions designated by the URIs.  But it uses the terms in
> a context C' that adds further information that is consistent with C.
> That info may be implicit in declarative or procedural statements.
> System B:  Another computational system that imports and uses terms
> in V.  B was developed independently of A.  It may use terms in V
> in a context C'' that is consistent with the general context C,
> but possibly inconsistent with the context C' of System A.
> Problem:  During operations, Systems A and B send messages from
> one to the other that use only the vocabulary defined in V.
> But the "same" message, which is consistent with the general
> context C, may have inconsistent implications in the more
> specialized contexts C' and C''.
> Therefore, the shared vocabulary V with shared definitions designated
> by URIs is not sufficient to guarantee interoperability among two
> independently developed systems that exchange messages that use
> only those terms and definitions in V.
> > I would suggest that instead of "messages that use the common
> > terms in any combination that has not been standardized may be
> > interpreted in inconsistent ways by bank A and bank B" that
> > such messages would not be interpretable by the bank that did
> > not originate such a message.
> That is the point I was trying to make:  A shared vocabulary
> with precise definitions designated by URIs is *not* sufficient
> for interoperability among independently developed systems.
> >> Any belief that URIs and closed form definitions can magically solve
> >> all these problems is an illusion.
> DF
> > Certainly, you will have definitional cycles.  You can not achieve
> > closed-form definitions if that is your meaning here.    (01)

> JFS: Yes.  But people who preach the gospel of URIs seldom, if ever, talk
> about "definitional cycles" or the inconsistencies that can arise
> when independently developed systems share information that uses
> "precise definitions" designated by URIs.    (02)

But beyond formal definitions, the "meaning" of URIs (like the "meaning"
of words) is established through deliberate and consistent use by
members of the community that agrees to use them. There are no
"accidental" URIs--every one is placed by some person for some
particular purpose. If the purpose fails or goes amiss, someone must
take corrective action. The price of effective communication--with or
without URIs--is eternal vigilance, not rigid definitions. URIs lower
the price of effective communication because of the ease with which
their use can be monitored and corrected.    (03)

--Paul    (04)

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