W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-owl-dev@w3.org > January to March 2007

Re: Reflexivity and antisymmetry uses cases?

From: Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 23:45:06 -0500
Message-Id: <EF13F88C-F1DC-413A-BCAD-1341467A155B@gmail.com>
Cc: public-owl-dev@w3.org
To: Holger Knublauch <holger@topquadrant.com>

Data point: I asked for antisymmetry to better support part-of  
relations. My own goal was to have the extra information act as a  
constraint so that inconsistencies would occur if  there were errors,  
as my experience is that life sciences data is plagued by  
inconsistencies and OWL could really help clean things up.

QCRs were another one that I asked for (among many other people). I  
have two use cases for them: 1 being the work I've done with Jeremy  
Zucker, tutored by folks at Manchester, in representing chemical  
reactions so that multiple metabolic databases with the same  
reactions can be merged with same reactions being computed to be  
equivalent. Another recent use for them is for the ACPP group which  
is part of the HCLSIG, where they wish to represent diagnoses of the  
form : if you have 4 of these 6 symptoms, then you might have a disease.

Neither of these features, I believe, represent recent advances in DL  
research, but then, I'm not an expert.

The features that do, I believe, represent relatively recent advances  
are the property chains and the datatype extensions. I believe that  
these features are well motivated. The property chains are modeled  
(at least) on the transfersThrough relationship from CYC, which I  
learned more than 15 years ago. It allows one to state useful things  
like if you own a car, then you own the parts of a car. Although I  
haven't experimented with this yet, I also believe it should make the  
use of reified properties more effective.

I suspect it wouldn't be too hard to find many use cases for the  
datatype extensions either. I've certainly read papers that have used  
them - in fact I'd argue that one should expose the full datatype  
extensibility that the current research allows.

Although I initially had questions about whether punning was a good  
idea, I am convinced that the experience gained in using them will be  
useful and contribute to further development of OWL. Of course the  
main thing they bring is the ability to annotate classes with more  
structured properties than was previously possible. Not having the  
ability to do that has long been a complaint. Still, here, I believe,  
there is more potential for confusion than in the other areas.

I will offer some reasons that I consider to be the cause of  
difficulties around OWL.

1) Lack of simple textual formats for using OWL, and the lack of a  
syntax extension mechanism. There is already buy in on the need for  
simpler syntaxes, and I expect that syntax extension will be a topic  
discussed at OWLED and in the working group.

2) Need for better education and educational materials. Many more  
realistic worked examples. Knowledge representation is hard. OWL is a  
way to do a hard thing. It's not that surprising that OWL is  
consequently hard. But I do think both knowledge representation and  
OWL can be taught.

3) A certain skirting around the issue of how RDF and OWL semantics  
differ from the usual database view of the world. Domain and Range  
are a constant source of confusion. Open world assumptions also  
makes, e.g. cardinality restrictions, not behave the way one would  
expect them to. I think the choice of open world assumption is well  
motivated, but we do need some ability to do closed-world reasoning  
such as constraint checking, and from a messaging point of view a  
more head-on approach to discussing  how and why both OWL and RDF  
differ from databases.

4) Performance can be scary because of the constraint that solutions  
be complete. I think there ought to be more effort to develop  
algorithms that trade completeness for speed - I have seen at least  
one already. The tractable subsets defined in the current OWL 1.1  
also address the performance issue, though I think more subsets can  
be enumerated and simple algorithms for implementing reasoners for  
them can be make more accessible.

Personally, I think that the line of thinking that says "OWL is too  
complicated, lets slow development of it down" is misplaced. Rather I  
think there is an under appreciation of the level of educational  
effort is required to move the concepts it deals with into the  
mainstream, and the need to plan for greater educational efforts.  I  
see the effort as a large constant, only incrementally added to by  
new features being added to the language. On the other hand, people  
who are experienced in using OWL generally want either more features  
or better performance. That constituency is the seed that will  
generate new use cases, applications, and teach others how to do so.  
I don't think denying them advances the cause.


On Jan 16, 2007, at 7:13 PM, Holger Knublauch wrote:

> Thanks for these example use cases.  I have also received another  
> one in a private email, plus the one from Pierluigi.  Makes so far  
> three groups who are interested in this.
> While I see that a lot of OWL properties could be made irreflexive  
> and antisymmetric, I wonder about what the ontology users would get  
> out of it.  Would they expect to get different inference results,  
> or would the extra information act as constraints to validate user  
> input, or what else?
> On a more general level, I am a bit concerned that the addition of  
> these extra features may be more driven by theoretical advances in  
> DL reasoners than by real user requirements.  Let's face it, we  
> have a trade-off here if we add more and more features to a  
> language that a lot of people already find much too complex: while  
> some users may argue that they need the additional expressiveness,  
> these additional features also increase the learning curve,  
> implementation overhead, and perception of OWL as a ivory tower  
> language.  During my time in the Protege community and even more so  
> at TopQuadrant, I don't remember anyone asking for reflexivity and  
> antisymmetry.  Maybe the people of this list have more use cases to  
> show?
> Holger
> John Goodwin wrote:
>>> we are looking into the user interface requirements that will be  
>>> needed to support OWL 1.1. Toward this end, we are interested in  
>>> understanding the use cases in support of the various new  
>>> features of OWL 1.1.  I can easily make sense of user-defined  
>>> datatypes and QCRs, but I don't think I had seen a lot of  
>>> examples for some of the other proposed features so far (except  
>>> for toy ontologies):
>>>   - owl:SelfRestriction
>>>   - owl:IrreflexiveProperty
>>>   - owl:AntiSymmetricProperty
>>> If you know of a published list of use cases (either formal or  
>>> informal), or if you have your own use case for any of these  
>>> features, I would be interested in seeing them.
>> Holger,
>> It is argued that reflexivity is required when modelling  
>> mereology. See
>> http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/BestPractices/OEP/SimplePartWhole/ 
>> index.html
>> I think these properties of OWL 1.1 could certainly have  
>> applications in
>> the geospatial domain. For example we might want to say that all  
>> rivers
>> flow into rivers, seas or lakes but they cannot flow into  
>> themselves. I
>> guess we could do this as follows:
>> River -> flowsInto some (River or Sea or Lake) and not flowsInto Self
>> Many topological relationships (for example those of RCC8) would be
>> irreflexive and antisymmetric. These properties might also be  
>> useful in modelling topology with some
>> notion of orientation. Properties such as "northOf", "eastOf",  
>> "leftOf",
>> "above" etc. would be antisymmetric and antisymmetric. As we  
>> experiment more with OWL1.1 I can probably come up with more
>> examples.
>> John
>> Dr John Goodwin
>> Research Scientist
>> Research Labs, Ordnance Survey Room C530, Romsey Road,  
>> SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom, SO16 4GU Phone: +44 (0) 23 8030 5756  
>> | Mobile: +44 (0) 7xxx xxxxxx | Fax: +44 (0)
>> 23 8030 5072 www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk |  
>> john.goodwin@ordnancesurvey.co.uk Please consider your  
>> environmental responsibility before printing this
>> email. .
>> This email is only intended for the person to whom it is addressed  
>> and may contain confidential information. If you have received  
>> this email in error, please notify the sender and delete this  
>> email which must not be copied, distributed or disclosed to any  
>> other person.
>> Unless stated otherwise, the contents of this email are personal  
>> to the writer and do not represent the official view of Ordnance  
>> Survey. Nor can any contract be formed on Ordnance Survey's behalf  
>> via email. We reserve the right to monitor emails and attachments  
>> without prior notice.
>> Thank you for your cooperation.
>> Ordnance Survey
>> Romsey Road
>> Southampton SO16 4GU
>> Tel: 08456 050505
>> http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk
Received on Wednesday, 17 January 2007 04:45:18 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 6 January 2015 20:58:14 UTC