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Re: [ontolog-forum] What the difference re., Data Dictionary, Ontology,

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2014 11:41:07 -0500
Message-id: <52FF98A3.30801@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed, Gary, David, Rich, and Ken,    (01)

The following two excerpts, which I agree with, summarize the reasons
why this thread could continue indefinitely:    (02)

> The problem with this whole exercise is that these terms have come
> from different disciplines and have broader and narrower meanings
> in certain communities.  Put another way, we will not be able to
> capture 'what (arbitrary) people mean by X'.  The best we can do is
> 'what WE agree to mean by X'.    (03)

Yes.  In Wittgenstein's terms, each discipline addresses a range of
problems for which their ways of talking (language games) have proved
to be useful.    (04)

> I don't think of this collection of ideas (Data Dictionary,Vocabulary,
> Glossary, Dictionary, Data Model, Taxonomy, Grammar, Language, Ontology)
> as natural types so there isn't a nature based definition or a descent
> relation that leads to Ontology from the prior list.    (05)

Yes.  As LW would say, there are criss-crossing family resemblances
among all those terms.  Each discipline uses them in language games
that could be defined for that discipline.  But there are no necessary
and sufficient conditions that could define all uses for all purposes.    (06)

> If one doesn't know which systems, programs, logic, data structures
> & rules  are producing the data, how will one know when the data
> suddenly changes?    (07)

Good question.  Neither Sherlock Holmes nor any competent scientist,
engineer, physician, forensic investigator, intelligence analyst, etc,
would accept data at face value without asking about the provenance,
the methods of derivation, and the people who derived and verified it.    (08)

> Adding ontologies to still the Babel of the silos could be the challenge
> task for some prize or other, comparable to Turing's challenge...    (09)

Computers create Babel much faster than people ever could.  The best
we can hope for is to make them keep audit trails that enable people
to use more computers to untangle the mess.    (010)

> When I am presented with what someone is calling an "ontology",
> I often ask whether it is meant for representation or reasoning.
> Often, the formalism of choice is UML...
> Where does this range of UML models fit?  How can we make that
> clear to the corresponding practitioners without turning them
> into experts or berating them for not being experts.    (011)

This gets us back to the issue of tools:    (012)

JFS, with apologies to Kant,
> Theory without tools is blind.
> Tools without theory are meaningless.    (013)

We need to develop both theories and tools that enable ordinary
people to untangle the mess of data in ways they can understand
and act upon.    (014)

John    (015)

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