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

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Patrick Cassidy" <pat@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2014 13:02:21 -0400
Message-id: <037401cf694c$f21fb930$d65f2b90$@micra.com>
I agree with everything John said below.     (01)

But I can't resist elaborating a little.
    Yes, the general terms in a foundation ontology will be underspecified
relative to what may be needed in an application.  The potential problems
will come when two independent domain ontology developers try to represent
domain elements with the same meaning.  Will they match exactly enough to
avoid logical incompatibility?    (02)

    My suspicion is that it will play out to some extent the way people
learn non-native English to communicate in international conferences.  Some
do it very well, and are clear and precise and comprehensible.  Others less
so.    (03)

   The advantage of the computer is that we can look "inside the head" of
the applications and see how any incompatibilities are generated.  That can
enable clarification of the documentation, or refinement of the constraints,
or additions to the foundation ontology.  I expect it will take time, over
multiple applications, to reach a relatively stable situation where local
developers can (if careful) reliably create extensions to the foundation
ontology that will have a high probability of being interpreted exactly as
intended by other users of the FO.   Maybe 50 non-trivial applications?    (04)

   To me this is a purely empirical question, to be determined by how it
works in practice.  As I mentioned, at this point it seems to me to be the
best approach, and therefore worth substantial effort to test.  But I am
prepared to be pleasantly surprised or disappointed by the result.   Over 30
years of laboratory experiments have taught me to be expect anything when
testing a hypothesis.    (05)

   In basic science, it can actually be a delight to be proven wrong; that
means that ones  assumptions were wrong, and therefore we have learned
something.  In engineering it may mean that the system needs some minor
adjustments, or alas, if unsalvageable, all one can say then is, as Edison
did "Well, I've learned one more thing that doesn't work".    (06)

Pat    (07)

Patrick Cassidy
1-908-561-3416    (08)

 >-----Original Message-----
 >From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
 >bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F Sowa
 >Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 2:10 AM
 >To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
 >Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] English number of words/concepts that cannot
 >be composed of others
 >Ed and Pat C,
 >We agree on many points.  I believe that there is a way to combine tools
 >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.
 >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.
 >> [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
 >That goal is a prerequisite for everything else.  Specifications at that
 >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.
 >> 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
 >Every logical restriction, constraint, or rule can be represented in
 >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.
 >> because the ontology is in a logical form suitable for reasoning...
 >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.
 >> 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.
 >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.
 >What I do object to are claims that any set derived from NL research can
 >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
 >Doug Lenat has said that for years:  the upper level has very few axioms,
 >all the significant reasoning is done with the middle and lower levels
 >microtheories).  I agree with him.
 >> 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.
 >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*
 >is or can be the ultimate ideal.
 >> Even though learning a common foundation ontology takes some effort
 >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
 >useful defining terms -- if and when they are ready to sit down and study
 >them -- but not in lesson #1, #2, or even #5.
 >In fact, Schema.org already has a large number of users.  So the *best*
 >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
 >(d) easier to use than the current English paragraphs.
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 >    (09)

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