|To:||"'Ontology Summit 2011 discussion'" <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>|
|From:||"Brian K Lucas" <lucasb@xxxxxxxx>|
|Date:||Wed, 2 Feb 2011 22:43:25 -0500|
What an interesting thread of conversation so far! I've been following, but too busy to compose my thoughts until now. Allow me to add a few observations from my own perspective:
1) Some of the conversation appears to refer to something more like Master Data Management and singular, integrated data models. As a newcomer to ontologies, that is not my impression of what ontologies offer - nor the reasoners that operate on formal ontologies, like OWL-DL types. While you can use an ontology to produce a model, I do not consider that their "highest and best use". I do not believe that it is possible (or desirable) to pursue a single model anyway (oil well examples notwithstanding). But that is a much larger philosophical conversation.
2) To be different (and therefore address an unmet need), ontologies must offer solutions to things that other methods do not. Since I can only speak for myself, I'll mention what attracted me to Semantic-web-based ontologies - the ability to describe awareness of the world from a particular perspective, in whatever local terms I use, and then, employ a reasoner to tell me whether (a) two things I've described are really the same (based on the ontology structure) and (b) what other awareness is discoverable once I express a concept in a given ontology. To achieve (b), I need all relevant ontologies to cross-reference equivalent concepts to extend my awareness beyond what I've collected in my own perspective, and access to the other expressions. Some better tools for capturing awareness and cross-referencing ontologies would help here - but that's just a tooling issue. There are many other classification methods that I know that can solve the terminology and classification problems, by forcing their definitions into use (e.g., any data modeling tool). Ontologies are the first one I've encountered that accept the data for what it is, and apply rules to reconcile and extend it.
3) In my limited use of ontology languages so far, it has made me call into question the anti-polymorphism imbedded in many data models and ontologies. We frequently begin by declaring some concepts as metaclasses, then require the user to declare instances of these classes before we can operate on them. By definition, this forces the user to pre-classify the thing that they are trying to describe, removing the ability of the ontology to discover what it really is (including the possibility of being multiple things). The data that is expressed by instantiating the ontology is already "muddied" by the perspective of the collector. To refer back to a previous example in the thread, the problem may not be that finance and engineering refer to oil wells and mean different things - it may be that the ontology of each perspective forced then to classify things as oil wells, which were not in fact the same concept. Two possible solutions are (a) extensively cross-referencing local ontologies or (b) building ontologies that do not force me to decide which class an object belongs to before instantiating an object in the first place. On a side note, I believe that this imbedded irreconcilability is the major problem with the programming paradigms of today.
Having said that, for what it's worth, allow me to offer a rough draft of an elevator speech, aimed at the audience of "anyone who wants to understand more". I'm sure that we could edit this to be more direct and "pithy", but I wanted to get the full thought out first.
The long version:
The short version:
Brian K. Lucas
Yuri, John, Anders and All,
I think we have sufficiently exposed the key aspects of this issue from different vantage points, and each of your positions are clear enough.
In the solicitation for "sound bites" and "elevator pitches," we are hoping to get them from a variety of perspective anyway. There is no desire (at least for now) for consensus on *one* sound-bite or *one* all-around elevator-pitch that everyone can use in the future.
Therefore, feel free to keep your positions, and let's move on, to tackle other related issues.
So, everyone ... send in your input, either at the
or, via the
Thanks & regards. =ppy
On Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 8:51 AM, John F. Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
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