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Re: [ontology-summit] [Applications] Launching the conversation about La

To: ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2012 02:52:23 -0500
Message-id: <4F1D11B7.7020903@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 1/23/2012 1:20 AM, joseph simpson wrote:
> Machine semantics and human semantics are usually treated in different
> manners, especially with reference to symbols and syntax.
> While machine processing of semantics is very dependent on common
> symbols and syntax, human semantics is very dependent on common context.    (01)

I agree with the distinction.  But the fundamental principle is that
*every* artificial language of any kind -- either a version of logic
designed for communicating with humans or a programming language
for computer processing -- is ultimately defined informally in a
natural language that is written by humans for the purpose of being
interpreted by other humans who program the machines.    (02)

Just look at any textbook of mathematics or computer science.
Every formal language is defined in a tightly controlled or
stylized natural language.    (03)

That has been true of *every* artificial language from Aristotle's
syllogisms to the most abstract formal languages used today.    (04)

FCA is based on a formal algorithm for deriving a lattice of
concepts from a table of instances.  But the instances that were
put in the table and the labels of the data items in the table
were chosen by human beings based on their informal intuitions.    (05)

The fundamental principle of computer processing since the 1950s
is GIGO:  Garbage in -- garbage out.  It doesn't matter how precise
your algorithms may be if your data happens to be based on somebody's
faulty assumptions or careless mistakes.    (06)

But there is some hope:  techniques such as FCA are very good at
detecting inconsistencies in the data.  They can draw the attention
of some human expert to the source of the inconsistency and request
some guidance about how to correct it.  That is very useful, but
it doesn't eliminate the need for human opinion.    (07)

Alan Perlis made a related observation:  "You can't translate
informal language to formal language by any formal algorithm."    (08)

John    (09)

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