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Re: [ontology-summit] Ontology Summit process [was- Re:[Big Systems and

To: Ontology Summit 2012 discussion <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Jack Ring <jring7@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2012 10:42:34 -0700
Message-id: <C6BD2106-53A7-4E41-A8C4-6E8FBF9A9CA2@xxxxxxxxx>
The issue of whether and how ontologies might enable more effective systems is precipitating a melding of general systems theory and practice with general semantics theory and practice. We all must read a lot of both then acknowledge that much of what we know ain't so.

On Jan 30, 2012, at 8:54 AM, Schiffel, Jeffrey A wrote:

Deb MacPherson (below) raised the important point about General Systems Theory. I fully agree. I opine that if one wants to read Boulding, then Bertalanffy should also be read. Here is a link to a brief excerpt from his General Systems Theory (1968):http://www.panarchy.org/vonbertalanffy/systems.1968.html
Note that briefly discussed open vs closed systems. In terms of systems of systems, the internal and external sources of inputs becomes very important. This also leads to questions about interaction among parts, which is also mentioned.
In other postings in this thread there are the good attempts at discriminating among system of systems, federated systems, aggregations, etc. This is also helpful.
HOWEVER, since I sort of kicked this whole thread  off, I’d like to remind everyone that this forum concerns ontology. Once some consensus emerges regarding the taxonomy of all these sorts of system collections, then we can approach the ontological aspect. In fact, this subject has already been broached, in the mention of the Tower of Babel (non-interacting ontologies) and the Leviathan  (centrally planned ontology).
So we need: 1) definitions and discriminators among kinds of system collections; 2) a firm notion of the attributes of General Systems Theory as they apply to the kinds of systems; 3) some idea of the difference between planned and ad-hoc system collections; and finally, 4) how to build ontologies for them, and how to make the ontologies communicate. The last point this has three sub elements: 4a) retrofitting ontologies to existing collections of systems; 4b) constructing ontologies for newly engineered collections; and 4c) interaction and communications between systems’ ontologies. Point 4b already had some excellent work done on it a few years back in the activities of the (now defunct?) Upper Ontology Working Group.
-- Jeff Schiffel
From: ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Debmacp
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 11:08 PM
To: Ontology Summit 2012 discussion
Cc: Ontology Summit 2012 discussion
Subject: Re: [ontology-summit] Ontology Summit process [was- Re:[Big Systems and SE] summit session-03]
:) yes

Sent from my iPhone

On Jan 27, 2012, at 11:01 PM, joseph simpson <jjs0sbw@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

It may be useful to look again at General Systems Theory and reflect on the concept of "system of systems."  

A classical work in this area is: "General systems theory: The skeleton of science," by Kenneth E. Boulding. 

In this work Boulding states, " The objective of General Systems Theory then can be set out with varying degrees of ambition and confidence.  At a low level of ambition but with a high degree of confidence it aims to point out similarities in the theoretical constructions of different disciplines, where they exist.... At a higher level of ambition, but perhaps a lower degree of confidence it hopes to develop something like a spectrum of theories -- a system of systems which may perform the function of a 'gestalt' in theoretical construction."   

So a system of systems has a clear definition in system science.

There are other definitions of system of systems which are more closely aligned with the specific aggregation of industrial based components in a time varying manner.  This type of system of systems is also usually associated with a family of systems.

It appears to me that yet another definition of the term system of systems is inferred from the usage in this discussion.

The first definition of system of systems presented here is composed of non-physical systems --- spectrum of theories.  

The second definition of system of systems is focused on industrial based product systems -- systems designed, developed and produced using an industrial process.

At first glance, a city seems to be yet another category.

Have fun,

On Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 6:47 PM, Deborah MacPherson <debmacp@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Lets get to a useful conceptual structure as a result of the summit - it is needed for cities actually. Regards, Deb


On Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 5:34 PM, Schiffel, Jeffrey A <jeffrey.a.schiffel@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Actually, I was hoping that this topic would return to conceptual structures. I thought the whole discussion of big systems was getting away from the subject of this forum.
I agree with your point. Well-thought out ontologies help reign in chaos and confusion in constructing systems, regardless of size and complexity. My approach, by the way, is via organizational semiotics of the Stamper school to analyze existing systems that have cultural aspects.
-- Jeff Schiffel

From: ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx On Behalf Of Debmacp
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 3:59 PM

However the is still a need to improve understanding and data exchange capabilities of cities. For example buildings can merge into each other or not even have a discreet address but the fire department still needs to know where they are going. Man made things like ontologies are also supposed to help reign in chaos and confusion (aren't they?)
Deb MacPherson 

Sent from my iPhone

On Jan 27, 2012, at 4:44 PM, "Schiffel, Jeffrey A" <jeffrey.a.schiffel@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

The city doesn’t have to be well-designed. Many grow by whimsy, almost. They still are collections of cooperating systems: systems of systems. Both kinds exhibit emergent behaviors, both positive and adverse. And they have boundaries. The other attributes you list are all characteristics of systems. We are merely discussing larger ones. Systems elements not addressed in depth in simpler systems become more important in systems of systems. This includes interactions arising from more complex and numerous interfaces. As I previously mentioned, hierarchy and emergence are more apparent. You’d expect this when complexity is considered (complexity in the sense of dynamical systems).
I thought I was clear that I was referring to engineered systems. But the natural systems you mention are also systems of systems.
-- Jeff Schiffel
From: ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of AzamatAbdoullaev
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 2:04 PM
To: Ontology Summit 2012 discussion
Subject: Re: [ontology-summit] Ontology Summit process [was- Re:[Big Systems and SE] summit session-03]
So a well-designed city is an urban system of systems, or networks of transportation, utilities, telecommuications, buidings, services, etc, a sort of metasystem.
But both the metasystems and big systems are marked by boundary and environment, with the following common features: domain, structure (elements and composition), behavior (inputs, outputs and processing), interconnectivity (structural and functional relationships), functions (processes), emergency and complexity.
Now how to define these two types of systems, and where to refer natural systems as the galaxy or artifical systems as the car, or mixed systems as sociotechnical systems or cyberphysical systems, as the internet. If they are large-scale systems or metasystems.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 8:05 PM
Subject: Re: [ontology-summit] Ontology Summit process [was- Re:[Big Systems and SE] summit session-03]
It is a system of systems. Each system (traffic, health care, sewage, etc.) can work independently, but each is coordinated with at lease one of the others. There is emergent behavior of the thing as a whole.
Note also that system of systems are usually open, requiring external inputs, and may provide external outputs.
Jeffrey Schiffel (316) 393-0497 M/C K81-77 
Boeing BDS - Wichita 
From: ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of AzamatAbdoullaev
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 12:01 PM
To: Ontology Summit 2012 discussion
Subject: Re: [ontology-summit] Ontology Summit process [was - Re:[Big Systems and SE] summit session-03]
What is a master-planned and well-designed city: systems of systems or big systems?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 7:16 PM
Subject: Re: [ontology-summit] Ontology Summit process [was - Re:[Big Systems and SE] summit session-03]
The engineers I work with commonly refer to “systems of systems” instead of “big systems.” Systems of systems are, as the name suggests, are collections of coordinated systems. The most common variety are network-centric systems.
Outside the engineering world – and in it, for that matter – the common phrase is “complex systems.”
The chief difference between systems and systems of systems, aside from scale, is increased interest in emergent behaviors and the application of hierarchy theories.
-- Jeff Schiffel

From: Arun Majumdar

FWIW:  I consider "Big Systems" distinct from "Systems Engineering" in that "Big Systems" are about size, depth, breadth and complexity from an ontological, teleological and epistemological schemes for naming, categorization, management, curation, lifecycle and operations viewpoint.  Systems Engineering, in my viewpoint, is about engineering methodologies, tools, techniques, approaches, strategies, cookbooks, and data/information/infrastructure architectures.
On Jan 27, 2012, at 11:46 AM, joseph simpson wrote:


Thanks, this kind of organizational detail helps.

If the objective of the summit activity is to make a distinction between "big systems" and "systems engineering" then combining the tracks would make the identification of that distinction more difficult.

I believe this primary distinction is important.

However, I agree that combining the tracks will not stop discussion. It will just eliminate the requirement to make a "best guess" categorization of area to place the topic.  Discussion of this fundamental selection would enable the communication of each individuals point of view.

For example, I would have placed the discussion of Cyc in Big Systems, not Systems Engineering.  I would place the earth weather system in Big Systems, not Systems Engineering.

I would place the discussion of component engineering languages in the Systems Engineering area but would call it concurrent component engineering, not systems engineering.  There is a difference between distributed, concurrent component engineering and Systems Engineering.

But that just my take on the domain areas, other views are just as valid at this level.

Have fun,


On Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 8:27 AM, Peter Yim <peter.yim@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

Seeing JackRing, JosephSimpson, TerryLongstreth, etc.'s misgivings
about the announcement on "combining the tracks 1&2", (and even
JohnSowa's use of "track" in his suggestion that we look at Cyc)  I
believe we need some clarification on the following really means, in
terms of the OntologySummit process.

This is my take on the matter ...

* Track - a broadstroke partitioning of various sub-focus under the
theme, which allows us to cluster and manage the OntologySummit
discourse more effectively

** Track Title - a label that broadly describes what a particular track covers

** Track Mission - a statement describing what a particular track
intends to achieve (and possibly a bit on how it intends to do it)

** Track champion - volunteers who are committing a lot of time and
effort to help get things organized (within a track), moderate the
discussions, host virtual panel sessions, and who will, eventually
help synthesize the inputs, contributions and learnings from the
community that were channeled to a particular track

* (virtual) Session - the weekly 2-hour virtual (augmented conference
call) events that are featured during the 3-months while the
OntologSummit is in session. These are (nominally) chaired and
organized by the track champions. Because of the time limitation,
there will only be about a dozen of these. Depending on the number of
tracks there are, each track ends up getting only one or two of these
sessions. These are the occasions where summit participants get to
interact synchronously. Participants are invited to offer to present
briefs of relevance (by sending a title and an abstract of what they
want to present to the track champions for consideration), or just
come to the sessions, and share their insights (which will get
documented and archived) in real time.

* (discussion) Thread / Subject - discussions made over the
[ontology-summit] mailing list. These are usually jump-started, and
coordinated by track champions. Topics can also be initiated by anyone
in the OntologySummit community (i.e. those who are subscribed to that
particular mailing list) as long as they are relevant to the Summit
theme; and, of course, preferably relevant to a particular track
mission. Participants are requested to properly prefix and label a
discussion thread's subject line to make it easier for everyone (and
for those who will be trying to synthesize the transactions.)
Contributions should stay on topic, an if the discussion is taking off
in a new direction, the contributor should also modify the subject
line as appropriate. This is the most generally used platform, with no
(within reason) limits (other than the contributors' time and
imagination), and works asynchronously among the OntologySummit

* CommunityInput and Synthesis wiki-pages for the tracks - this is,
presumably, self-explanatory. see:
... under "Workspaces"

* Constraints - there are a lot that can be done, but only some will
get done because we are constraint by time (~3 months) and the limited
volunteered resources. Therefore, if anyone is passionate about seeing
a particular aspect properly addressed, please volunteer yourself to
help drive it.

So, (my take again) ...

- Did we 'kill' the distinction between "systems engineering" and
"engineered systems" by combining the two tracks? ... I don't think
so. Those discussion threads are still alive and kicking on the
[ontology-summit] list and in the in-session chat inputs. No one is
(or can) call a stop to them.

- Did we "kill" any discussion? ... not by way or combining or
relabeling the tracks; but with the posting of the new track-1&2
mission statement, the focus should now be very clearly defined, and
one can better see where the champions would want to see the
discussions be directed.

- Can we start a "track on Cyc"? ... probably not (any more) at this
stage; and given the constraints, even having a "session just on Cyc"
may not be the most appropriate.  However, JohnSowa's call to our
paying attention to Cyc and discuss what we are learning from it, is a
absolutely brilliant idea.  Input into that thread John just started
will help move the discussion forward. I'm sure Cyc has material that
is relevant to any and all of our tracks, and various track champions
can consider addressing certain aspects in one of their virtual
sessions. Getting those activities properly coordinated would be the
organizing committee's job (which the various co-champions can
discuss, offline, in the organizing committee meetings or on their
[ontology-summit-org] list.)

Regards. =ppy

On Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 6:18 AM, Jack Ring <jring7@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Having combined two distinct topics into one track you now ask that we deselect our sub-topics to fit the limited bandwidth. Will this arrive at a compelling summit in April?

> On Jan 27, 2012, at 2:01 AM, Matthew West wrote:
>> Gentlemen,
>> Thank you very much for your contributions yesterday. Your talks obviously
>> raised considerable interest.
>> If there is a problem, it is that there is just too much material to go at
>> in the remainder of the Ontology Summit on this track. So I would ask you
>> each to nominate just two focussed topics from the discussions last night,
>> that you would like to see progress made during the rest of the summit.
>> Mine are:
>> - Ontology of System Components
>> - Design Language Interoperability
>> Regards
>> Matthew West
>> Information  Junction
>> Tel: +44 1489 880185
>> Mobile: +44 750 3385279
>> Skype: dr.matthew.west
>> matthew.west@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> http://www.informationjunction.co.uk/
>> http://www.matthew-west.org.uk/
>> This email originates from Information Junction Ltd. Registered in England
>> and Wales No. 6632177.
>> Registered office: 2 Brookside, Meadow Way, Letchworth Garden City,
>> Hertfordshire, SG6 3JE.


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Deborah L. MacPherson CSI CCS, AIA
Specifications and Research Cannon Design
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