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RE: Cross-ontologies reasoning

From: <ewallace@cme.nist.gov>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 10:56:39 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <200312161556.KAA13832@clue.msid.cme.nist.gov>
To: public-sws-ig@w3.org

Drew McDermott wrote:
>   [Francis McCabe]
>      Notwithstanding the technologies being discussed, *translation*  
>   between ontologies is about as tractable in the general case as
>   between English and Japanese.
>This assessment is overly pessimistic.  We're not talking about
>translating Japanese literature into English.  In most cases the
>differences between ontologies fall into categories such as these:
>* One ontology represents a concept as a class, the other as a property
>* One ontology makes fine distinctions about a concept; the other uses
>  a broader brush.
>* One ontology uses a predicate with n arguments where the other uses
>  a similar predicate with n+1.  The missing argument must be deleted
>  or inferred somehow.
>* and so forth
>Translating back and forth can be done by straightforward deductions.

and this is overly optimistic.  Add to that list:
* One ontology represents a concept as a class, the other as an instance

* A qualifying attribute in one ontology translates to an additional class 
with a different attribute in another ontology

and many more.

Different factorings like this will be common.  We see them all the time
in models of overlapping domains.  For example, right now there are 
discussions on a manufacturing integration standards list which are aimed
at aligning planning and execution views of manufacturing processes.  Both
of these models cover many of the same entities, but different things are
important to each.  Different factoring of concepts has made it difficult
even for people to see the mapping.

Assuming that we can create mappings between ontologies, how can we test
their quality.  One concern I have is preserving consistency.  One ontology 
may well have constraints (disjointness for example) that another doesn't.  
How can we ensure mappings are restricted between these two ontologies such 
that importing data consistent with one through a mapping to another won't 
violate local constraints (KB pollution?)?


Evan K. Wallace
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
Received on Tuesday, 16 December 2003 10:56:59 UTC

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