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## Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives

 To: "[ontolog-forum]" William Frank Sat, 10 Aug 2013 09:08:39 -0400
 One of the problem with the "Leibnizian dream" of a universal semantics based on primitives is the unstated assumption that there is at most ONE set of primitives from which all other concepts can be derived.  In fact, if there is at least one, for a set of N concepts, then there will be plenty more different sets of primitives from which all the other concepts can be derived.  (My guess would be something on the order of N factorial).  People who discover one of these, or are looking for one and making progress, so often think that theirs is the "real" one.   (Just as, more trivially, people who are taught in a logic class that one can derive all the other Bollean operators from NOR sadly often come away thinking that NOR is the real primitive, or from the foundations of mathematics, that sucessor and zero is more primitive that plus, zero, and one, just because it is a smaller set, even though if I define sucessor in terms of plus and 1, I have the same system.)   More generally, mediocre engineers who discover one solution to a programming problem think they are done, and defend it to the death.  The key is to determine among a set of solutions, which will be the most useful, for a give set of purposes.  (Purposes being something else few people seem to want to state explicitly.)   WmOn Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 6:35 PM, Bruce Schuman wrote: Thanks so much for this reply.  I’ve been bumping through the Wikipedia citations, and considering how to interpret those ideas.  They’re helpful, and express a hopeful and idealistic spirit.  It’s true that my own efforts are somewhat tinged by the Leibnitzian dream of a universal semantics – but to introduce that idea seriously into a world where Google and computer science are so strong, I’d say we need to make some major concessions to hard-edged analysis.  So it’s probably true that my use of the word “primitive” could be a little misleading – given that there are these substantial existing efforts to identify a particular set of “words” as “ primitives” – with the hope that maybe “the right set of words” could be the answer…  For me – the concept of “primitive” must involve something deeper than “words”.  As I see it – a word is a label or a name for some concept – and that concept has implicit structure.  What I feel we have to do – is to drill down beneath the level of words – in the process, mastering how a word embodies “meaning” – and explore the structure of the “abstract objects” that words are naming – and see if we can generalize the construction mechanics of those abstract objects – showing how words and concepts and meaning are “constructed” – and from what.  For me – every word, every concept, is a name for an abstract symbolic object assembled as a composite body of “distinctions”.  Those distinctions are the fundamental building blocks of any concept – and hence, I would say, any word.  For me – it is this “distinction” – or “cutting” process – that is the key “primitive” through which all language and all conceptual structure can/should be defined.  I’d say there’s an analogy with the way “bits” are built up into alphabets and from there into larger composite units (words, sentences, paragraphs, books…).  Concepts are composite bodies of distinctions – defined just as Aristotle suggested, and as John Sowa describes in slide 17 of  http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/kdptut.pdf  What I think I am seeing when I look at a natural language – any natural language – is a dimensional parsing of conceptual space,  with words naming composite abstract units that can be defined with absolute fluid plasticity.  So, for me, if there is a “universal language” behind any and all instances of natural language – it is a language of dimensions and distinctions that can and should be defined in a kind of universal algebra, and which each culture defines in its own particular way – assigning labels (“words”) to composite blocks of distinctions that are interesting for them.  I did write up a brief review of this idea for this list, at http://sharedpurpose.net/groupdocs/introtoontolog.docx  There’s a bibliography here: http://originresearch.com/sd/biblio.cfm  John Sowa’s 1984 comments on concepts: http://originresearch.com/sd/sd4.cfm  Thanks so much for the discussion and comment.  Bruce Schuman (805) 966-9515 Santa Barbara   From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Obrst, Leo J. Sent: Friday, August 09, 2013 12:05 PMTo: [ontolog-forum] Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives  The linguist Anna Wierzbicka has attempted to define a set of semantic primes or primitives for language (i.e., all languages): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_primes, perhaps similar in notion as Pat Cassidy is trying with COSMOS. There is also Swadesh’s list of core words for historical linguistics, with many variations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swadesh_list.  It’s the dream of many. Personally, I think it is a lost cause when considered as a reduction to semantic primitives, but there may be some merit in looking for a set of common words in many languages.  It also strikes me as an effort of lexical decomposition similar to that of the Generative Semanticists of the late 1960s/early 1970s, and some of the semantic-feature based work of Jackendoff, etc.                                                                                       Thanks,Leo   From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Bruce Schuman Sent: Friday, August 09, 2013 11:43 AMTo: '[ontolog-forum] 'Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives  Good morning from Santa Barbara.  As a new member of this very interesting forum, thanks to all for being here.  On this issue of “primitives” – my instinct is to go to the basic theory of concepts, and ask how any concept is defined or “constructed”.  For me, the answer is more or less found in the Aristotelian approach to definition, as described by John Sowa in slide 17 of http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/kdptut.pdf  -- a process which defines a “distinction within a genus”.  When I look at systems defined by primitives – to my eye and understanding, these elements are usually not what I would call primitive – not fundamental – not truly “ontological”.  They are most often composite/holistic objects with a complex but undefined and implicit internal structure, that we are asked to take on faith, on the assumption that these “units” are somehow basic.  I want to see an approach to primitives that constructs everything – every possible concept – from a simple fundamental algebraic process of “drawing a distinction”, as per the Aristotelian method.  As I see it, the concept of “distinction” or differentiation is related to the fundamental mathematical concept of “cut” – as per the Dedekind Cut at the foundation of mathematics and the definition of continuity and the real number line.   From my point of view, we should be building our fundamental conceptual units from this foundation.  As regards the “atoms/molecules” analogy – for me, the right approach is to look for a “fundamental particle”.  Even atoms are composite structures.  If we are going to take a bottom-up approach to constructing every possible cognitive unit, we need to build these units from something truly fundamental.  In pursuit of this basic approach, I am developing a model of conceptual structure based on dimensionality and taxonomy that I call “synthetic dimensionality”.  I put a brief intro written for this list online:  http://sharedpurpose.net/groupdocs/introtoontolog.docx  Thanks so much for this discussion.  Bruce Schuman (805) 966-9515 Santa Barbara  From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Patrick Cassidy Sent: Thursday, August 08, 2013 8:30 PMTo: '[ontolog-forum] 'Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Case realtions as Practical Semantic Primitives - was Context and Inter-annotator agreement  Gary,       On two points: [GB-C]`> He provided a highlight of work, but in that list I didn't see Fillmore's Case grammar,` `which did have an important role in other part's of John's postings such as the` `Verb Semantics Ontology project.  This might not provide ultimate primitives, but are` perhaps molecules of a deeper chemistry.     I have been tempted to refer to primitive concepts as “atoms” that build up “molecules” of meaning, but there are important differences that make the analogy misleading.  Many “primitive” concepts that are types within a hierarchy will be distinguished not by necessary and sufficient conditions (a logical “definition”), but only by necessary conditions.  This leaves a lot of potential instances unspecified, and differs from the fixed properties of atoms; I believe that is indeed the way people use the primitives – they are only as specific as necessary for particular communication tasks.  Perhaps even in the ‘atom’ analogy there can be some flexibility, since the isotopes of elements can have differing properties, but even that variability is much less than one sees with many conceptual primitives.  [GB-C] `> Case relations may not be the final word, but they provide a` `starting point for core meta-relations that can be used to develop canonical propositions.`      Yes, case relations are among the relations I believe are primitive, but they are still only a small part of the total number of primitive relations.     As my earlier note suggested, these hypotheses (however well motivated) need careful experimental testing to warrant strong assent, but the current trends in funding of NL research suggest that proper testing is still years in the future.  Pat  Patrick Cassidy MICRA Inc.  From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gary Berg-Cross Sent: Thursday, August 08, 2013 3:47 PMTo: [ontolog-forum]Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Case realtions as Practical Semantic Primitives - was Context and Inter-annotator agreement  `The Context and Inter-annotator agreement topic seems to have wound down, but along the` `path of that discussion there was this idea of semantic primitives. `` John Sowa provied an historical  list of people who have addressed this seductively, common sense ` `idea of selecting a small number of primitives for defining everything. It is, as he noted:` `" one of the oldest in the history of philosophy,``logic, linguistics, and AI.  It can be traced back at least to 500 BC` `with Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle. " ``He provided a highlight of work, but in that list I didn't see Fillmore's Case grammar,` `which did have an important role in other part's of John's postings such as the` `Verb Semantics Ontology project.  This might not provide ultimate primitives, but are``perhaps molecules of a deeper chemistry. Case relations may not be the final word, but they provide a` `starting point for core meta-relations that can be used to develop canonical propositions.` `As John noted, more research is needed but this is one tool that can be used for now.`` `` `Gary Berg-Cross, Ph.D.   NSF INTEROP Project   SOCoP Executive SecretaryKnowledge Strategies     Potomac, MD  On Sun, Aug 4, 2013 at 1:28 PM, John F Sowa wrote: Pat,PC> The point at issue is whether all of the senses of a particular word> needed for language understanding can be included in a semantic lexicon. > My experience suggests that they can, even though new senses are being> developed all the time.  The new senses can also be included in the lexicon,> if they are important enough to warrant the effort. That claim is vague enough to cover all bases.  If you want a projectthat includes all word senses anyone considers important, I suggestWiktionary.  It has "3,476,017 entries with English definitions from over 500 languages":    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Main_PageLarge numbers of people around are actively updating and extending Wiktionary.  When the number of senses is in the millions and growing,it seems hard to claim that there is any finite upper limit.PC> JFS seems to be saying that failure of some groups to achieve a goal means > that no amount of effort trying a related but different way can succeedMore precisely, the idea of selecting a small number of primitives fordefining everything is one of the oldest in the history of philosophy, logic, linguistics, and AI.  It can be traced back at least to 500 BCwith Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle.  For summaries and references,see http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/kdptut.pdf . Slides 13 to 18:  Aristotle's categories, definitions, and the Tree    of Porphyry for organizing them graphically.Slides 91 to 93:  Universal language schemes in the 17th and 18th    centuries.  John Wilkins developed the largest and most impressive     set of primitives (40 genera subdivided in 2030 species).  Wilkins    got help from other members to define 15,000 words in those terms.    For more information about these and other schemes, see references     by Knowlson (1975), Eco (1995), and Okrent (2009).Slides 94 to 97:  Ramon Llull's Great Art (Ars Magna), which included    Aristotle's categories, the Tree of Porphyry, rotating circles    for combining categories, and a methodology for using them to     answer questions.  Leibniz was inspired by Llull to encode the    primitive categories in prime numbers and use multiplication    to combine them and division to analyze them.Slide 98:  Leibniz's method generated a lattice.  For modern     lattice methods, see FCA and Ranganathan's facet classification.    Click on the URLs to see FCA lattices that are automatically    derived from WordNet and from Roget's Thesaurus.Slides 99 to 101:  Categories by Kant and Peirce.  A suggested     updated version of Wilkins' hierarchy that includes more    modern developments.Slides 102 to 107:  Issues about the possibility of ever having    a complete, consistent, and finished ontology of everything. For modern computational linguistics, the idea of selecting a setof primitives for defining everything was proposed and implementedin the late 1950s and early '60s:1961 International Conf. on Machine Translation.  See the table     of contents: http://www.mt-archive.info/NPL-1961-TOC.htm .    At that conference, Margaret Masterman proposed a list of 100    primitive concepts, which she used as the basis for lattices     that combine them in all possible ways.  Yorick Wilks worked    with Masterman and others at CLRU, and he continued to use    her list of primitives for his later work in NLP.  For the    list, see http://www.mt-archive.info/NPL-1961-Masterman.pdf TINLAP (three conferences on Theoretical Issues in Natural Language    Processing from 1975 to 1987).  The question of primitives was    the focus of these conferences.  Yorick Wilks was one of the    organizers.  Roger Schank (who also had a set of primitives for     defining action verbs) was prominent in them.  For summaries,    see http://www.aclweb.org/anthology-new/T/T78/T78-1000.pdf    and http://www.aclweb.org/anthology-new/T/T87/T87-1001.pdf . Anna Wierzbicka spent many years working on issues of selecting and    using a proposed set of primitives for defining words in multiple    languages.  From Wikipedia:  "She is especially known for Natural     Semantic Metalanguage, particularly the concept of semantic primes.    This is a research agenda resembling Leibniz's original "alphabet    of human thought", which Wierzbicka credits her colleague, linguist     Andrzej Bogusławski, with reviving in the late 1960s."  Many people    tried to use her "semantic primes" in computational linguistics,    but none of those projects were successful.I never said "No amount of effort trying a related but different way can succeed."  In fact, I have been proposing and *using* relatedmethods, but I always insist on keeping all options open.There is no evidence that a fixed set exists, and an overwhelmingamount of evidence that Zipf's Law holds:  there is an extremely long tail to the distribution of word senses.  But if you keep your optionsopen and *if* a fixed set of primitives is sufficient, then you willdiscover that set.  That is my recommended strategy. > So the statistical approach has become vastly more funded than> the ontological/analytical.I certainly agree with you that a deeper analysis with ontologies andrelated lexical resources is essential for NL understanding.  I believe that statistical methods are useful as a *supplement* to the deepermethods.   At VivoMind Research, we use *both*, but the emphasis ison a syntactic and semantic analysis by symbolic methods. > the current strong emphasis on the statistical approach is, I believe> retarding progress by failing to develop even the most basic resources> needed for the analytical stage 2 function. I wholeheartedly agree.  But from a selfish point of view, that givesus a competitive advantage.  We got a contract with the US Dept. ofEnergy based on a competition with a dozen groups that used their favorite methods of NLP.For the test, all competitors were asked to extract certain kinds ofdata from a set of research reports and present the results in a table.The scores were determined by the number of correct answers.  Our score was 96%.  The next best was 73%.  Third best was above 50%, and all therest were below 50%.For analyzing the documents, we used very general lexical resourcesand a fairly simple general ontology.  But we supplemented it with a detailed ontology that was specialized for chemical compounds,chemical formulas, and the related details of interest.For an example of a spreadsheet with the results, see slides 49 & 50of http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/relating.pdf . John_________________________________________________________________Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/ Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J   _________________________________________________________________ Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/ Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/ Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/ Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J   ``` _________________________________________________________________ Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/ Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/ Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/ Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J    (01) ```
 Current Thread Re: [ontolog-forum] Taxonomies, cuts, and the decimal system, (continued) Re: [ontolog-forum] Taxonomies, cuts, and the decimal system, John F Sowa Re: [ontolog-forum] Taxonomies, cuts, and the decimal system, William Frank [ontolog-forum] Are Classifications nothing more than Indexes?, Frank Guerino Re: [ontolog-forum] Are Classifications nothing more than Indexes?, William Frank Re: [ontolog-forum] Are classifications nothing more than Indexes?, John F Sowa Message not availableRe: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Bruce Schuman Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Gary Berg-Cross Message not availableRe: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Bruce Schuman Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Gary Berg-Cross Message not availableRe: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Bruce Schuman Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, William Frank <= Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Patrick Cassidy Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Michael Brunnbauer Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Patrick Cassidy Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, William Frank Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical Semantic Primitives, Patrick Cassidy