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Re: [ontolog-forum] STANDARD ONTOLOGY: USECS: The Catalog of World Entit

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2015 13:52:24 -0400
Message-id: <55AE86D8.8040609@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 7/21/2015 12:02 PM, David Price wrote:
> There are many domains where terms are very well-defined, specifically
> many engineering disciplines exhibit that characteristic … if not
> planes would be falling from the sky every day.    (01)

Some critical questions:  What do you mean by 'domain'?  What do you
mean by 'well-defined'?  And what do you mean by 'term'?    (02)

For example, the Boeing 777 -- the first airplane that was completely
specified by computer -- was precisely defined.  But it used a large
number of *mutually inconsistent* domains -- i.e., different and
inconsistent approximations for different theories used for different
components and aspects of the same airplane.    (03)

 From http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/crystal.htm
> As these examples illustrate, physics is not a monolithic subject,
> but a loose collection of subfields, each characterized by what it
> ignores or approximates. The totality forms an inconsistent knowledge
> soup, where one scientist ignores features that are the focus of
> attention for another.    (04)

> My experience is seeing enterprises waste a lot of money doing
> ontology work because they are like Wall Street-driven CEOs only
> thinking about the short term when they should have a much longer
> term vision.    (05)

Certainly.  But that "vision" is an extremely underspecified
theory stated only in natural language.  Even an attempt to make
it "precise" in the details would a very bad idea, typically
known as "micromanaging".    (06)

> The idea of everyone in an industry or enterprise using the same
> framework/approach links up nicely with the certified accountancy
> guidelines analogy thread that appeared in the last week or two.    (07)

The words 'framework', 'approach', and 'guidelines' are a sign
that we're talking about a broad, general, underspecified theory
stated *only* in a natural language.  Each application will have
a different special case that is also stated in a natural language.    (08)

> Think continents of agreement rather than islands of isolation.    (09)

I agree with all the points you're making.  But all those agreements
are stated in ordinary language.  There is no way that they could
be translated automatically to logic or any other computable form.    (010)

>> You can standardize terminology, but in every branch of science,
>> technology, business, and the arts, the definitions of those
>> terms and the theories about them are always in constant flux.
> They are not all in constant flux.    (011)

Again, we're talking about different levels of detail.  I agree
that many terms in science have been given precise definitions:
NaCL, for example.  But if you talk about 'salt', even if you
mean 'sodium chloride', there is a huge difference between what
you sprinkle on your food and what you sprinkle on an icy highway.    (012)

> it’s continents that should be the objective.    (013)

We need agreements at every level, and different people in different
roles need different terminology and details.  For example:    (014)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/sowazach.pdf    (015)

See Figure 6 on pp. 600-601.  That table shows people in five
different roles who each have six different perspectives on the
same system -- for a total of 30 different descriptions.    (016)

And those are just 30 broad-level views.  There is much
more to be said at the detailed levels.    (017)

John    (018)

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