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[SE] Ontology Driven Architectures

From: Phil Tetlow <philip.tetlow@uk.ibm.com>
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2005 08:29:12 -0500
To: SWBPD <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>
Cc: Cliff Jones <cliff.jones@ncl.ac.uk>, Grady Booch <gbooch@us.ibm.com>
Message-ID: <OFA976DF8E.F1793712-ON80256F80.00480D81-85256F80.00496494@uk.ibm.com>




You will be aware that one of the deliverables of the W3C's task force on
the Application of the Semantic Web in Software Engineering is a publically
available list of 'validated ideas and potential uses for the Semantic Web
in Software Engineering'. As such I have done some provisional work over
Christmas to produce an initial description for the concept of Ontology
Driven Architectures(ODA). This has now kindly been reviewed by Grady Booch
and Jeff Pan to remove any really obvious mistakes, but any further
alterations or additions would be warmly welcomed.

Ontology Driven Architectures

In all well-established engineering disciplines, modelling reality through
a variety of formal and semi-formal notations has proven itself essential
to advancing the practice in each such domain. As such, large section of
the Software Engineering profession have evolved from the concept of
constructing models of one form or another as a means to develop,
communicate and verify abstract designs in accordance with original
requirements. Such ideas have spawned the fields of Computers Aided
Software Engineering (CASE) and, more recently, Model Driven Architectures
(MDA), where models are not only used for design purposes, but associated
tools and techniques can be utilised further to generate executable
artefacts for use later in the Software Lifecycle. Nevertheless there has
always been a frustrating paradox present with tooling use in Software
Engineering that has arisen from the range of modelling techniques
available and the spectrum of systems requiring design: Engineering
nontrivial systems demands rigour and unambiguous statement of concept, yet
the more formal the modelling approach chosen, the more abstract the tools
needed, often making methods difficult to implement, limiting the freedom
of expression available to the engineer and proving a barrier to
communication amongst lesser experienced practitioners. For these reasons
less formal approaches have seen mainstream commercial acceptance in recent
years, with the Unified Modelling Language (UML) currently being the most
favoured amongst professionals.

Even so, approaches like the UML are by no means perfect. Although they are
capable of capturing highly complex conceptualisations, current versions
are far from semantically rich. Furthermore they can be notoriously
unambiguous. A standard isolated schematic from such a language, no matter
how perfect, can still be open to gross misinterpretation by engineers who
are not overly familiar with its source problem space. It is true that
supporting annotation and documentation can help alleviate such problems,
but traditionally this has still involved a separate, literal, verbose and
long-winded activity often disjointed for the production of the actual
schematic itself.

What is needed instead is a way to incorporate unambiguous, rich semantics
into the various semi-formal schemes underlying methods like the UML. In so
doing, the ontologies inherent to a system’s real world problem space and
its various abstract solution spaces could be encapsulated via the very
same representations used to engineer its design. This would not only
provide a basis for improved communication, conformance verification and
automated generation of run time-artefacts, but would also present
additional mechanisms for cross-checking the consistency of deliverables
throughout the design process and enable stronger inter-project
connectivity via the sharing of ontological concepts.

In many respects an ontology can be considered as simply a formal model in
its own right. Hence, given the semantically rich, unambiguous qualities of
information embodiment via ontologies on the Semantic Web and the
universality of the Semantic Web’s XML heritage, there appears a compelling
argument to combine the semi-formal Model Driven techniques of Software
Engineering with those common to Ontology representation on the Semantic
Web.


Kind Regards

Phil Tetlow
Senior Consultant
IBM Business Consulting Services
Mobile. (+44) 7740 923328
----- Forwarded by Phil Tetlow/UK/IBM on 05/01/2005 07:59 -----
                                                                           
             "Jeff Pan"                                                    
             <pan@cs.man.ac.uk                                             
             >                                                          To 
                                       Phil Tetlow/UK/IBM@IBMGB, "\"Grady  
             05/01/2005 07:29          Booch\"" <gbooch@us.ibm.com>        
                                                                        cc 
                                                                           
                                                                   Subject 
                                       Re: Ontology Driven Architectures - 
                                       Help needed with an early           
                                       description for W3C please          
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           




Hi Phil and Grady,

Sorry for getting back to you late - our servers had been down since
Christmas and they only went back to work earlier this morning.

In accordance with Grady's suggestion, what do you think if we extend the
first sentence of the last paragraph into

"In many respects an ontology can be considered as simply a *formal* model
in its
own right. "

Happy New Year,
Jeff

--
Dr. Jeff Z. Pan  ( http://DL-Web.man.ac.uk/ )
School of Computer Science, The University of Manchester



----- Original Message -----
From: "Grady Booch" <gbooch@us.ibm.com>
To: "Phil Tetlow" <philip.tetlow@uk.ibm.com>
Cc: "Jeff Pan" <pan@cs.man.ac.uk>
Sent: Sunday, January 02, 2005 5:50 PM
Subject: Re: Ontology Driven Architectures - Help needed with an early
description for W3C please


What would you think about prefixing your message with the sentence "In
all well-established engineering disciplines, modeling reality through a
variety of formal and semi-formal notations has proven itself essential to
advancing the practice in each such domain."

The point here is that are troding ground that others have, and thus what
we are pursuing is relevant.

Grady Booch
IBM Fellow
    Voice:    (303) 986-2405
    Mobile:  (303) 898-7091
    Fax:        (303) 987-2141
    Video:    (303) 795-6587/6626
    GPS:      39.620/-105.076
    Notes:    Grady Booch/Boulder/IBM
    E-mail:   gbooch@us.ibm.com



Phil Tetlow/UK/IBM@IBMGB
01/02/05 10:10 AM

To
Grady Booch/Boulder/IBM@IBMUS, "Jeff Pan" <pan@cs.man.ac.uk>
cc

Subject
Ontology Driven Architectures - Help needed with an early description for
W3C please





Grady, Jeff

You will be aware that one of the deliverables of the W3C's task force on
the Application of the Semantic Web in Software Engineering is a
publically available list of 'validated ideas and potential uses for the
Semantic Web in Software Engineering'. As such I have done some work over
Christmas to produce and initial description for the idea of Ontology
Driven Architectures (ODA). I must, however, confess that I have found
this task somewhat difficult and would hence really appreciate your
thoughts on my initial draft below, before I submit it to the general SWBP
mailing list for consideration.

Ontology Driven Architectures

Large section of the Software Engineering profession have evolved from the
concept of constructing models of one form or another as a means to
develop, communicate and verify abstract designs in accordance with
original requirements. Such ideas have spawned the fields of Computers
Aided Software Engineering (CASE) and, more recently, Model Driven
Architectures (MDA), where models are not only used for design purposes,
but associated tools and techniques can be utilised further to generate
executable artefacts for use later in the Software Lifecycle. Nevertheless
there has always been a frustrating paradox present with tooling use in
Software Engineering that has arisen from the range of modelling
techniques available and the spectrum of systems requiring design:
Engineering nontrivial systems demands rigour and unambiguous statement of
concept, yet the more formal the modelling approach chosen, the more
abstract the tools needed, often making methods difficult to implement,
limiting the freedom of expression available to the engineer and proving a
barrier to communication amongst lesser experienced practitioners. For
these reasons less formal approaches have seen mainstream commercial
acceptance in recent years, with the Unified Modelling Language (UML)
currently being the most favoured amongst professionals.

Even so, approaches like the UML are by no means perfect. Although they
are capable of capturing highly complex conceptualisations, current
versions are far from semantically rich. Furthermore they can be
notoriously unambiguous. A standard isolated schematic from such a
language, no matter how perfect, can still be open to gross
misinterpretation by engineers who are not overly familiar with its source
problem space. It is true that supporting annotation and documentation can
help alleviate such problems, but traditionally this has still involved a
separate, literal, verbose and long-winded activity often disjointed for
the production of the actual schematic itself.

What is needed instead is a way to incorporate unambiguous, rich semantics
into the various semi-formal schemes underlying methods like the UML. In
so doing, the ontologies inherent to a system?s real world problem space
and its various abstract solution spaces could be encapsulated via the
very same representations used to engineer its design. This would not only
provide a basis for improved communication, conformance verification and
automated generation of run time-artefacts, but would also present
additional mechanisms for cross-checking the consistency of deliverables
throughout the design process.

In many respects an ontology can be considered as simply a model in its
own right. Hence, given the semantically rich, unambiguous qualities of
information embodiment via ontologies on the Semantic Web and the
universality of the Semantic Web?s XML heritage, there appears a
compelling argument to combine the semi-formal Model Driven techniques of
Software Engineering with those common to Ontology representation on the
Semantic Web.


Many thanks and Happy New Year

Phil Tetlow
Senior Consultant
IBM Business Consulting Services
Mobile. (+44) 7740 923328

Received on Wednesday, 5 January 2005 13:29:24 UTC

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