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Re: [ontolog-forum] The Society of Mind as Internet platform

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 31 May 2013 13:04:19 -0400
Message-id: <51A8D813.5010201@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Michael, Ron, and Doug,    (01)

I'll comment on your notes in this thread, since it more directly
reflects goals for future developments.    (02)

MB (from the thread of Data & Relations)
> here is an interview about what Oracle does with RDF, OWL and SPARQL. They
> seem to be quite satisfied:
> Part 1: http://www.w3.org/QA/2013/05/interview_oracle_on_semantic_w.html
> Part 2: http://www.w3.org/QA/2013/05/interview_oracle_on_semantic_w_1.html    (03)

Thanks for those references.  They show what Oracle did to integrate
their core technology (Relational DBMS) with the SW technologies.
That was one of Tim B-L's goals in the proposal of Feb 2000.  If the
DAML project had addressed that goal, this level of integration would
have been achieved for *every* DBMS (relational and/or graph) long ago.    (04)

Oracle, from Part 2 reference above:
> However using "vanilla" Oracle database tables for RDF would be inefficient    (05)

Yes.  Their original approach took the opposite tack of converting
RDF to RDB.  But that proved to be too slow.  Their current method
implements *both* relational and graph-based storage methods, and it
allows users to query either or both with SQL or SPARQL.    (06)

That was the recommendation by the ANSI/SPARC conceptual schema report
in 1978 -- and Oracle fought that proposal whenever anyone suggested
an ANSI or ISO standard for it.  I'm glad that they now implemented
what they should have supported 30+ years ago.    (07)

Oracle, from Part 1 reference above:
> Though we did capture some data using a variety of formats, there really
> was nothing before OWL. We started using OWL to scale this product line
> by allowing our partners to add their own rules starting roughly 5 years ago.    (08)

Another blast from the past.  The people working on the conceptual
schema in the 1970s recognized the need for a type hierarchy for both
relational and network DBs.  I published a version in 1976:    (09)

    Conceptual graphs for a database interface    (010)

I'm not claiming priority, because Aristotle said it first, and the
semantic networks in AI had type hierarchies in the 1960s.  What is
disgusting is for Oracle to say "there really was nothing before OWL." 
There were huge numbers of proposals to add a type hierarchy to SQL,
but Oracle successfully *killed* every one of them.    (011)

All of this technology could have been implemented and running
in the 1980s, if the DB vendors hadn't killed every proposal.
And it could have integrated the SW with mainstream IT if the
the DAML project had implemented what Tim B-L proposed.    (012)

RW (from the thread of is-part-of: a really, really, bad practice?)
> I have come to the naive conclusion that ontologies need to reflect
> some use case in order to make any sense.    (013)

Whether you call it naive or profound, it's common sense -- but it's
usually ignored by people who are busy grinding philosophical axes.    (014)

> My system analyst background says that my way of looking at wine is
> going to be a lot different if I am building a cooking site than it
> would if I was designing a business system for the LCBO (Liquor Control
> Board of Ontario - reputed to be the world's largest purchaser of wine).    (015)

Yes.  Any framework that tries to force everything into a single
perspective (or "language game" as Wittgenstein called it) will fail.
The upper levels of an ontology must avoid any and every commitment
that might be inappropriate, inconvenient, or just false for some
legitimate uses.    (016)

> Can one actually construct a "wine ontology" that will be equally
> meaningful in both contexts? And equally convenient to build and maintain?    (017)

The answer for wines is the same as the answer for geology,
medicine, bridge building, or anything else:  Yes and No.    (018)

> The problem here is defining a "right core hierarchy" with the assumption
> that there is only one.  So long as one allows multiple hierarchies,
> which is the right "core" one ceases to be an issue.    (019)

I agree.  My recommendation is to adopt a highly underspecified upper
level with an open-ended family of subhierarchies or microtheories.    (020)

>> This idea of natural types I do not know how to easily    (021)

>> argue for, though I have seen such arguments that convinced me.    (022)

> I wouldn't apply the term "natural" to anything constructed by humans --
> certainly not financial instruments.    (023)

I agree that the word 'natural' should be avoided (except for
historical or bibliographical references).  Peirce avoided such
terms with his categories Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness.
But he also used synonyms that many people prefer:    (024)

    Quality, Reaction, Mediation.    (025)

John    (026)

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