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Re: [ontolog-forum] is-part-of: a really, really, bad practice?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: William Frank <williamf.frank@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 20 May 2013 11:52:05 -0400
Message-id: <CALuUwtCS1zytB9D5Mi8k3o+xD3LyEs_gb8tm90fT7otJyh4YJw@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

On Mon, May 20, 2013 at 11:21 AM, Patrick Cassidy <pat@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
The use of simple nouns such as "mother" or  "sister" by themselves to
designate a relationship presents a serious problem in determining the
polarity: in   "X sister Y",  who is the sister - X or Y?

I agree completely. 'sister' is a role in a relationship,

so if you refiy the relatinship, calling it for instance, 'sisterhood', or 'being sister-related', and say


has two roles, the role of the sister and the role of having the sister,

you have then unpacked this very complex idea into its atomic elements.
 Even if one
ontologist used the polarity consistently, it would still be a problem for
others trying to understand the notation.  I always use the verbal
"isTheSisterOf" or "hasSister" for such relations.  As I understand him,
John Sowa also suggests such usage.  As a final blow, I have seen
sophisticated ontologies using the simple noun where the intuitive
polarities are in fact different for different relations.  Good grief!!
Although an ontology when used by a computer will do all and only what the
axioms specify, the ontologies have to be understood by people in order to
be used properly. What I consider "really, really bad practice" is to use
any labels other than those most easily and rapidly understood by the human
who is looking at the ontology.  

Absolutley, but 'human' among engineers so often means "english speaker', or at least 'indo-european speaker'.    This is such a shame, especially when English, which may be the most irregular, messy language there is, is used as the model for what 'human beings' can understand easily.   Ask anyone who has had to learn English how easy it is!  I would much prefer to take Chinese as the model.

If you take all the nouns that are elipses for binary rleatonships, like 'customer' 'sister', 'catalyst', etc., and turn then explicitly into nouns that represent binary predicates, you have a simpler, language - independent way of expressing thes things, easy to learn, that is also much more powerful.  You cast everything you want to talk ABOUT (domain concepts) as a thing/type of thing, (depending on context), i.e., draw a box around it, and then use the arrows representing logical particles to say what you want to about these things. 

Useful ontologies are big, and it is a high
crime to force people to waste time trying to figure out what the intended
meaning is.

The matter of general or ambiguous relations such as 'isaPartOf' requiring
more specific subrelations is a different issue.  There are lots of 'part'
subrelations in COSMO, and in other ontologies I have seen.  All are useful
in their proper context.

Absolutley.    But are these pretty much logical, domain independent distinctions, or not?.



Patrick Cassidy

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