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Re: [ontology-summit] Reasoners and the life cycle

To: Ontology Summit 2013 discussion <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Fabian Neuhaus <fneuhaus@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2012 12:39:27 -0500
Message-id: <E25ED0D9-DEDF-423C-8351-BC1BFEA0F719@xxxxxxxx>
I agree that the appropriate level of detail is dependent on requirements. But I also think that there is a notion of "accuracy" that is not dependent on context or requirements. For this reason I think it is useful to distinguish two notions: accuracy and completeness. I use the terms in the following way:  
"ontology x is accurate" iff all axioms in x are true. 
"ontology x is complete (given a set of requirements)" iff 
(a) x contains all  classes, relations that are needed to represent a piece of reality sufficiently to meet the requirements, and  
(b) x contains sufficient axioms that are needed to answer queries that are relevant for the requirements (given an appropriate theorem prover) 

Obviously, this allows for the possibility that an inaccurate ontology might meet the requirements of a given application. For example, you might include the axiom (pi = 3.1415), which is inaccurate but might be sufficient for the needs of an application. 


On Dec 23, 2012, at 4:57 PM, Michael F Uschold wrote:

On "accuracy"
The examples you give are good, but seem unlikely to turn up in most ontologies people are building because the logics used are not designed to support heavy computation. The fact that different representations that are all important but logically inconsistent seems a great argument that logic is not the best tool for the job of representing all three things in a unified framework.

I think the more important point is that "accuracy" is not absolute; there is some notion of context or purpose that is relevant. Something can be accurate enough for one purpose, but woefully inadequate for others.  Ideally both representations can seamlessly live together zooming in and out to the appropriate level of detail --  but this may not be possible, as in the cases you note.

On appealing to authority:
Perhaps you missed my smiley - it was a rhetorical comment.  

On Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 6:32 PM, John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Michael and Alan,

> There is a broader issue here that reasoners are only a part of. That is:
> "Where do you derive confidence from that your ontology is accurate"?

Accuracy is important, but it's only one of many features that make
an ontology good.  Sometimes, *less* accuracy is better.

For example, relativity and quantum mechanics are known to be
more accurate than Newtonian mechanics.  But Newtonian mechanics
is preferable for large objects moving at typical speeds on earth.

As another example, the Navier-Stokes equations for fluid mechanics
are accurate, but too complex for efficient computation.  Therefore,
nearly every application uses some approximations.  Sometimes, the
*same* application may use *contradictory* approximations for
different aspects:  laminar flow, turbulent flow, subsonic flow,
supersonic flow.

> There is a nice tool called Ontology Pitfall Scanner which allows
> you to upload an ontology and it will do a bunch of things like this.

I checked the web site, and I noticed that many of the tests it performs
can also be determined by the FCA tools (Formal Concept Analysis).  But
FCA can also *generate* the hierarchy automatically in form that is
guaranteed to avoid those pitfalls.

> Still other ways to derive confidence that the ontology is accurate
> is to have it checked by experts in the field.

Yes.  That is a good example of how one should appeal to "authority".
See my further comments on that point below.

But first, I'd like to cite Alan Rector's points on another thread:

> Ambitions for global "reference terminologies" lead to artefacts built
> by committees some of whose originators - e.g. IHTSDO/SNOMED CT -
> even disclaim responsibility for how they should be used...
> Large scale reference ontologies - or models of any kind - can also
> be caught by conflicts of requirements from multiple potential users
> - clinical care, statistical reporting, billing, speed of use, etc.
> The results have not always been happy.

These are examples of "too many authorities spoil the broth".

>> Jim [Hendler] said that he liked the article very much:
>>  http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/fflogic.pdf
>>  Fads and fallacies about logic

> Hmm, the subtext here is scarily close to the fallacy of appealing
> to authority. If Jim liked it it must be good.

I cited Jim in self defense.  He is known to be one of the chief
promoters of the Semantic Web, but I've been known to criticize
many aspects of it.

In any case, citing authority is not, by itself, a fallacy.  Every
academic paper cites authorities, and any paper without such citations
is suspect.  What is wrong is a *fallacious* appeal to authority:

    Linus Pauling was a brilliant physicist.
    Linus Pauling said that megadoses of vitamin C are beneficial.
    Therefore, megadoses of vitamin C are beneficial.

This reasoning is fallacious for two reasons:  (1) being an expert
in physics does not necessarily mean that one is an expert in
medicine; and (2) even among experts in medicine, there is no
consensus that megadoses of vitamin C are beneficial.

Re Semantic Web: Jim Hendler is an acknowledged expert, and he has
been highly supportive of its development.  I cited his authority
as evidence that my points are compatible with that development.



Michael Uschold
   Senior Ontology Consultant, Semantic Arts
   LinkedIn: http://tr.im/limfu
   Skype, Twitter: UscholdM


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