this comment, just for the sake of truth. For several days, we've all read
many funny remarks about ontology, computing ontology, and semantics. But
to get nowhere. In fact, we need to determine what 'ontology' signifies,
both denotes and connotes. Namely, to specify :
1. its denotation (reference, extension, content), the class of entities
that the construct of ontology refers to, 2. its connotation, a set of
relationships (properties, aspects, dimensions, attributes). I am afraid
issue of meaning of ontology, but also its real dimensions.
Recall that the primary purpose of the Ontology Summit is NOT TO DEFINE
ONTOLOGY so much as it is to DEFINE A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL FRAMEWORK by
which artifacts that various communities develop can be compared. A
typology for ontology, perhaps.
The hope is that by defining a set of properties (dimensions), and
considering values for the properties, I can describe my thesaurus in a
way that can then be more easily compared with your logical theory and
Mary's topic map model. In this multi-dimensional coordinate space,
perhaps we can more clearly understand what we need to do to achieve
semantic interoperability among our artifacts.
Dr. Leo Obrst The MITRE Corporation, Information Semantics
Voice: 703-983-6770 7515 Colshire Drive, M/S H305
Fax: 703-983-1379 McLean, VA 22102-7508, USA
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 9:59 AM
To: Ontology Summit 2007 Forum
Subject: Re: [ontology-summit] Ontology Framework Draft Statement
Somehow there is a funny side to this thread, self explanatory about
the 'state of the art' of ontology.
Amazingly, I follow the discussions among the authors/gurus whose work
has introduced me to this domain, namely Tom, John Azamat and many
others and I find myself in both disagreement and agreement with much
of what is being said.
Reality is paradodixal
I see the problem that we are having as follows
- ontology, like the reality that ontology models and represents, is
not just one thing, altough it can be just one thing if that's what
you need or want to talk about. So possibly all of the proposed
interpretations/angles are true and acceptable, it's just a matter of
chosing/defining the scope what definition we are referring to in any
given part of our discourse, and provide some grounding/rationale for
that choice so that we can be understood by others. We will never come
up with one single exhaustive definition, and if we do, that is not
likely to last for long or be pefect always for all instances.
- 'Putting to rest' a definition may sound like we are killing it, but
letting it evolve and grow into different directions means that we are
building on it, I am sure that there are situations where
'specification of conceptualization' is still a suitable definition (I
use it often), and situations where the reality that we are observing
has outgrown the definition which needs to be expanded (I use other
definitions and even make up my own ones when something new comes up)
and if necessary changed altogether.
nothing is ever created nor destroyed, everything is always
- Our real problem is the process. A 'statement was issued before the
discussions were opened up and confrontation among different views and
opinions were made public. it's great that we all have the opportunty
to chip in, but this is now sounding like Tom and the others issued
the 'official' view, and now the others have to argue to have these
views changed. This is likely to cause conflict The fact is that we
all have different perspectives, and this exercise is unprecedented
We should make the process more inclusive at start, then each of us
can ponder on the different views propose, and adopt/follow the most
suitable constructs as they see fit, depending on what exercise is
- the wiki may be an answer. Let's post on the wiki all the questions
and considerations that have led to such a statement to be formulated
in such a way (I am sure the original authors have some reasons why
they have come up with this), with the initital statement presented
simply as one possible view. But there should be equal room for all
other views, for us to define the 'reality of ontology today'
Only a comprehensive resulting statement includng all possible/valid
views (views that are true) can satisfy our collective requirement,
and where necessary
conflict can be acknowledged. I dont see anything wrong with that
Fnally, it looks to me like the Summit should be aimed to discuss all
of the above
including a methodology to achieve 'inclusive' viewpoint
personally, I acknolwledge reality for what is (other points of view
simply exist, provided they are correct I must accept them) and that
each of us should be able to adopttheir preferred definition without
causing grief to others
without assuming that their choice is the best or the only correct
one, provided choices/assumptions are declared
Paola Di Maio
(Peter I ll send you my slides asap)
Tom and Azamat,
I realize that a lot of hard work has gone into writing that
document, but some of it raises more questions than it can
answer. In particular, words like 'conceptualization' and
'representation' are especially frustrating, because they
are used in conflicting ways that create more confusion
TG> The draft document is written as a logical walk down
a set of distinctions, so that we could discuss the source
of disagreements and clearly identify the point of departure.
That opening section was not clear at all. And as I said,
there is no "point of departure" between philosophy and
computer science when it comes to ontology.
TG> To say there is no difference between what a professor
of Aristotelian ontology means by ontology and what a
bioinformatics computer scientist managing a gene database
means is absurd.
No. If they both have a good background in logic, they
would be in complete agreement about the definition of
ontology and its application to bioinfomatics.
Aristotle, by the way, was a pioneer in both formal logic
*and* biology. As a result of applying his methods of
analysis, he was the first to recognize that a sponge is
an animal, not a plant. Among the experiments that he and
his students carried out was the study of how an embryo
develops: they started with 30 chicken eggs and broke
open one egg each day to examine the embryo. Biologists
recognize that as one of the first and best illustrations
of good experimental procedure.
TG> There is a new word sense for ontology...
No. In both philosophy and computer science, there are two
ways of using the word 'ontology'. I suggest the following
two definitions, which apply equally well to both fields:
Ontology: The analysis and classification of what exists.
An ontology: The result of an ontological analysis of some
domain, presented as a formal description and classification
of the types of entities and relations in that domain.
These definitions apply to Aristotle's work and to "a
bioinformatics computer scientist managing a gene database."
AA> I suggest to find a way and consider a kind of definition
not isolating computing ontology from the mainstream as
something odd and extraordinary, out of the blue sky. It is
plain that there are fundamental ontology, a universal account
of reality, and applied ontologies, where the computing
ontology belongs in.
AA> Computing ontology is a formal representation of reality
and its domains, levels, and complex entities and is used to
formulate computable models, causal algorithms, and reasoning
strategies about the world, its parts and aspects.
The last two lines of this definition apply "an ontology" as
defined above to computer systems. Therefore, I believe that
we should state a general definition (as above) and add a few
lines such as these to adapt it computer science.
Paola Di Maio
School of IT, MFU.ac.th
"For as long as space and time endures
may I too abide to dispel misery and ignorance"