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Re: [ontolog-forum] English number of words/concepts that cannot be comp

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 06 May 2014 02:10:01 -0400
Message-id: <53687CB9.4010304@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed and Pat C,    (01)

We agree on many points.  I believe that there is a way to combine
tools such as STE (Simplified Technical English) and COSMO with
taxonomies such as Schema.org.  Diagrams such as UML and others
have proved to be very helpful, and they can be specified with
the same level of precision as any linear notation for logic.    (02)

The issues that keep us from reaching a consensus are theoretical
points about the nature of language and the boundaries between
a controlled vocabulary, a taxonomy, and a formal ontology.  We
could continue arguing about them forever.  Or we could design
something useful.    (03)

> [Pat's] goal of "accurate semantic interoperability among databases
> and applications" is in fact to be attained by having effective
> communication among the human authors of the databases and applications.    (04)

That goal is a prerequisite for everything else.  Specifications at
that level have been used for IT applications with punched card machines
and computer systems for over a century.  Formal ontologies may help.
But until we replace humans, we need humanly readable spec's.    (05)

> The understanding of the meanings of the ontology elements will be
> better than that typically obtained from people sharing definitions
> in a controlled vocabulary because the ontology also has many logical
> restrictions, evident in the text or in a viewer such as Protégé    (06)

Every logical restriction, constraint, or rule can be represented
in controlled NLs, such as STE or many others that can be freely
downloaded.  UML tools are far more widely used than *any* tools
that have come out of the AI community -- *and* FUML specifies UML
with the same degree of precision as any linear logic.    (07)

> because the ontology is in a logical form suitable for reasoning...    (08)

That's important.  But the humanly readable form is *more* important.
People have been using NL spec's for over a century, and they require
such versions.  The logic-based notations are useful, but the NL forms
are *essential* -- diagrams are also important.    (09)

> by trying to focus on the necessary semantic primitives, one keeps the
> ontology to the minimum size that will accomplish the task. This makes
> it easier to learn and easier to use.    (010)

I have *never* objected to having a methodology based on a limited set
of defining elements.  I have *never* objected to research such as
Anna W's for finding common semantics among multiple languages.    (011)

What I do object to are claims that any set derived from NL research
can be sufficiently precise -- without further refinement -- for
a formal ontology.  I'll accept it as a starting point for a vague,
underspecified, upper level *taxonomy*.  But the precise, detailed
reasoning is *always* at the lower levels.    (012)

Doug Lenat has said that for years:  the upper level has very few
axioms, and all the significant reasoning is done with the middle
and lower levels (the microtheories).  I agree with him.    (013)

> thus far I haven't seen any suggestions for alternative means to
> general semantic interoperability that appear any more likely
> to achieve the goal of accuracy.    (014)

I have no objections to that methodology.  I believe that the COSMO
terms are good as any and better than most.  But I don't believe
that *any* version is or can be the ultimate ideal.    (015)

> Even though learning a common foundation ontology takes some effort    (016)

I would *never* start teaching people the foundation.  It's much better
to adopt the Schema.org strategy of starting with the terms that people
can start using on day 1.  I have no objection to telling them that
there are some useful defining terms -- if and when they are ready
to sit down and study them -- but not in lesson #1, #2, or even #5.    (017)

In fact, Schema.org already has a large number of users.  So the *best*
way to get them to use COSMO (or any other set of defining terms) is
to show that the definitions of Schema.org stated in COSMO terms are
(a) more readable, (b) more flexible, and (c) more precise, and *most*
of all (d) easier to use than the current English paragraphs.    (018)

John    (019)

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