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Re: [ontology-summit] Criteria for evaluating ontologies at different le

To: ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2012 13:58:16 -0500
Message-id: <50E1E048.50704@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew,    (01)

>> My recommendation seems to be close to yours: start *middle out* and
>> keep iterating until it covers upper, middle, and lower levels.    (02)

> Yes, that is how I started, but once you have a good upper level
> ontology, you just map new stuff to it (and improve it if there
> are problems).    (03)

I agree.  The goal of any methodology is to develop something useful.
The more reuse you get from the results, the more useful they are.    (04)

>> kind_of_activity
>> A class_of_activity all of whose members are of the same kind.
>> Much simpler:
>> kind_of_activity:  a one-place relation that is true of every activity
>> of the same kind.    (05)

> I disagree. Class_of_activity is the supertype of kind_of_activity, and
> you leave no place for it. For end users, class is much easier to relate to
> than one place relations, which is a logic view point. I would not with to
> burden users with that. I might not choose class if I had my time again, but
> in ISO 15926 that is history now, and changing it would be more confusing
> than leaving it the same.    (06)

There are four separate issues in that comment:    (07)

  1. What is the simplest metalanguage for talking about ontology and
     its mapping to logic?    (08)

  2. How do you define and explain types and subtypes in ways that are
     logically sound and pedagogically effective for most people.    (09)

  3. How do we design a good user interface and explain it to domain
     experts who have never studied logic or ontology?    (010)

  4. How are these issues related to specific ISO standards?    (011)

I answered question #1 in my previous note.  The short summary is that
all the mainstream logic notations are based on four kinds of primitive
notions:  relations (or predicates), quantifiers, variables (or names
or some graphic equivalent), and Boolean operators.  Everything else
can be defined in terms of these four.    (012)

Aristotle answered question #2 in a form that is widely used today:
assign a noun phrase to each category (monadic relation) in ontology.
In the 3rd century AD, Porphyry organized the categories in a tree
and introduced the drawing conventions we still use today.    (013)

In the 1940s, Sister Miriam Joseph taught that logic to freshman
English majors with a popular and widely reprinted textbook:    (014)

    Joseph, Sister Miriam.  The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic,
    Grammar, and Rhetoric.  Paul Dry Books.  (Available for $16.11)    (015)

I recommended this book as a good introduction to ontology and knowledge
representation, and Pat Hayes agreed.  I also recommend the style of
writing in that book for anybody who is teaching an intro to ontology.    (016)

For question #3, my recommendation is to develop tools that use the same
terminology and diagrams that the domain experts use.  That means that
we need tools that can support controlled NLs and widely used graphics.
The tools should support methods for tailoring the graphics by adapting
symbols, shapes, and styles to the conventions of any special domain.    (017)

For question #4, we cannot change any official standard.  But we can
recommend mappings of the standards to and from the notations above.    (018)

>> member_of_ :
>> OPTIONAL SET [1:?] OF class_of_class_of_spatio_temporal_extent;    (019)

> Now you are looking at a bit of EXPRESS, and you have missed some
> important bits.
> ENTITY class_of_spatio_temporal_extent
> SUBTYPE OF (class);
> member_of_  :  OPTIONAL SET [1:?] OF
> class_of_class_of_spatio_temporal_extent;
> ...
> What this means in plain English is that each
> class_of_spatio_temporal_extent may be a member_of_ one or more
> class_of_class_of_spatio_temporal_extent.    (020)

I did not quote all the details because I considered the first
line as a "reductio ad absurdum".  And calling that explanation
"plain English" is even more absurd.    (021)

An example of Sister Miriam's style:    (022)

> A young man tells a young woman, "When I look into your eyes,
> time stands still."
> Another man tells her, "You have a face that would stop a clock."    (023)

This illustrates the difference between the logical implications
of a statement and its idiom and emotional effect.  She quotes
Shakespeare and other authors to illustrate complex and subtle
logical and philosophical notions.    (024)

When you're trying to explain anything in "plain English",
ask yourself "How would Sister Miriam explain that?"    (025)

John    (026)

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