The gradually-growing form of ChristopherSpottiswoode's ...    (2Z72)

Ontology Chemistry - a grand challenge project proposition    (2Z73)

(But this account is still very incomplete and now (2012_02_03) also very out of date and soon to be replaced.)    (346F)

'' February 2013: A new start to the same project will soon appear on this site, but now under the name Semantic Chemistry. Watch that space!    (3N98)

The Ontology Chemistry project is a suggestion for OntologySummit2012.    (2Z75)

As set out on 2011_10_18 on, the suggested theme or topic is:    (2Z76)

The suggested process is:    (2Z78)

The suggested format is:    (2Z7A)

The suggested kind of people we should engage:    (2Z7C)

Some confidently foreseeable outcomes    (30DI)

Ontology will take centre stage in the design and deployment of all networked applications.    (30DJ)

By contrast it has been playing merely peripheral roles up till now. But the advance will accord with the expectations and gut feelings of ontologists. Your instincts and skills will more fully come into their own.    (30DK)

On the other hand, the effect on Software Engineering will be dramatic and revolutionary, with large-scale displacement of techniques, renewal of applications and advances into new domains of application.    (30DL)

Fortunately, such change will be welcomed, in due course by almost all concerned, as a move towards a more natural simplicity. It is not change that repels, but confusion.    (30DM)

This page is still being built up, to show how those impacts will derive directly from building on the close connection between abstraction and communication (The abstract is what the situations of communicating partners, or different times for the same person, are deemed for present purposes to have in common). Rational data federation will be implicit. Relevant information, however complex the situation, will more easily be brought to bear on whatever the matter in hand.    (30DN)

Not surprisingly therefore, beyond the mere technology of it, the effects on life and society will be profound.    (30DO)

In a nutshell, by properly grasping the nettle of complexity we shall collectively exploit it better, to the many-dimensioned enrichment of all.    (30DP)

Some notes of caution obviously need sounding    (2Z7E)

The full project whose next steps are seriously presented here as a Grand Challenge candidate is clearly a proposition of enormous intended impact. But a first glance may well leave it seeming mind-boggling in its ambition, its pretentiousness, its sheer folly.    (2Z7F)

A little further knowledge of it may (I imagine) leave you in a more seriously worried so completely dismissive state of mind: "It's all far too totalitarian for my liking!"    (2Z7G)

So one major objective in these pages is to convince you that the project is both desirable and feasible, with the envisaged Ontolog Community-managed steps even within a practical Grand Challenge timeframe.    (2Z7H)

At the same time I shall try to convey to what extent the full project's very modus operandi, in an ongoing way, should strongly reinforce and augment the checks and balances that nature and civilization have evolved against the rightly-feared human tendencies partly confessed-to above.    (2Z7I)

Thus, and in many other ways too, there is a paradoxically-compatible combination of new paradigm with ancient wisdom, of revolution and evolution, of hope and realism, of enthusiasm and caution, that is captured in the long-standing slogan for the full project: "Ride The Mainstream!"    (2Z7J)

A 3-step project as starting-point for Ontolog Forum discussion at this stage    (2Z7K)

Step 1: The Ontolog Community thrashes out the issues as set out here (on the wiki for continual updating), maybe with one or more F2F workshops, and decides whether to proceed with the evolving plan. (Timing: by end 2011?) Then if so:    (2Z7L)

Step 2: An Ontolog Community-derived team further defines and organizes, locates funds (leveraging the USPs such as those still only introduced at, with soundbites and elevator pitches still to be gathered on this wiki), then mounts, launches and executes the Grand Challenge. (Timing: launch or some earlier clear stage at Ontology Summit 2012?)    (2Z7M)

The outcome would be a programmed product, an "Application Operating System" (AOS), able to function as qualitatively-better development environment and hosting platform for carefully-chosen initial kinds of Internet-based application. Those kinds will include the further diversification and evolution of the AOS itself, notably in its own architecture-canonical collaborative or social-network mode. (Timing: 1 further year, with review at Ontology Summit 2013?)    (2Z7O)

That short timeframe is thanks to two key factors:    (30DQ)

Step 3: The simpler and more natural way of working within the new ecosystem rapidly attracts ever more users. They bootstrap the ever fuller new ecosystem into ever more application domains, and with ever more extensive creation and evolution of compatible new techniques. Since that will also apply to the AOS itself as well as to an ever-growing component market, that growth could be truly exponential for the foreseeable future.    (2Z7P)

The evolving and burgeoning ecosystem now well established in the Internet wild continues as a fully democratic and self-managed universal marketplace, now targeting all Internet-based applications. (Timing: ongoing.)    (2Z7Q)

An introduction to the AOS    (2Z7R)

The architecture-canonical AOS or Application Operating System will in due course largely supersede (that being the intention and expectation) the web browser, the email or other social networking client, more broadly the opening user interface of any Internet-connected device, the 'main procedure' of conventional programming and eventually the operating system shell.    (2Z7S)

The "Boot" or "Seed" AOS, the target product of Step 2 above, could be limited to those aspects required for its own further collaborative evolution and bootstrapping of the wider market.    (2Z7T)

The AOS is a generic agent, accepting inputs, processing them against the data at its disposal, then deriving and emitting outputs. There is no necessary sequence or synchronicity of those steps, but managing synchronization is a basic function of the AOS.    (2Z7U)

The AOS is an "agent" because it acts on behalf of and interacting with other agents, with human beings of course prime sources of the driving inputs and prime targets of the outputs.    (2Z7V)

But the AOS has functionality far beyond those simple agent roles. As we shall see shortly, implicit in the mention of the "data at its disposal" it is also a DBMS, and more specifically a Factbase manager. The maintenance of data consistency is another basic AOS function, with many implications such as user dialog and UI management, both local and remote.    (2Z7W)

All that data, those facts, are structured as ontologies and their extensions, with the ontologies themselves, and their management, defined in terms of reflective ontologies.    (2Z7X)

The approach finds great support in this recent statement by Dan Brickley as reported at :    (30DS)

danbri: on the 'do we need rdf' question, .... we see two trends: (1) people who use RDF, find frustration with the fiddly details of the spec (datatypes, etc.). Perhaps such things are just inherently annoying. There needs to be a rule, but the rule is arbitrary. (2) people who don't use RDF explicitly, often drift towards a data model that is very RDF-like, because RDF didn't appear from nowhere. Graph-shaped data is a very common pattern (cf. Kingsley on EAV). Hence all recent talk on 'social graph', 'interest graph', etc.    (30DT)

Similarly, here is Ed Barkmeyer, even more recently, at    (30DU)

That said, many of us who have dealt with information modeling for these many long years have come to realize that the notion of a "path through the semantic network" is a critical idea in understanding relationships among information elements, particularly among competing viewpoints. In RDF this is a well-understood concept -- a trace through the graph. EAR does not of itself have such a notion. Thinking of the 'path through the network' as a set of relational joins is representing the conceptual path by a particular implementation technique that can mimic it -- their formal models are almost unrelated. So, I personally think of "path conceptualization" as a critical difference between the two models.    (30DV)

The common accessibility of graph-shaped data and the ready intuitiveness of ER or semantic net path tracing were major considerations in the technical design from its very inception in 1987 (as related at You could also follow that year's link re "context" for further background very relevant here).    (30DW)

But except for toy problems data graphs - and of course the information they reflect - have a habit of becoming spaghetti pictures. The pattern followed here for simplifying that complexity according to user-relevance is to contextualize it, or organize it in terms of some meaningful conception of 'context'.    (30DX)

But as Pat Hayes rightly insisted on, 'context' has to be defined in such a way that dumb computer programs can interpret it usefully and reliably. That definition is one of the objectives of the following section.    (30DY)

The AOS in action    (30DZ)

(and almost an outline specification of the Challenge target product)    (30E0)

This is still in careful preparation.    (30E1)