W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > August 2007

Re: [ontolog-forum] Current Semantic Web Layer Cake

From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@tamu.edu>
Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 11:39:51 -0500
To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@ontolog.cim3.net>
Cc: SW-forum <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-id: <6F37144C-E499-4093-A108-D30AA44ACF25@tamu.edu>

Kathryn,

Your remarks are of course well-taken and sum up the issue very  
nicely -- yet another of your many fine contributions to this forum.   
I was, in fact, only half serious. :-)  However, while your account  
of model theoretic semantics is formally correct, I would have to say  
that it doesn't do justice to its importance, which was behind the  
genuinely serious half of my post.  Typically, or at least often,  
there is a clear *intended* model for an ontology that can be  
expressed very naturally in such terms as "the things we are talking  
about" (rather than the clinical, if correct, phrase "the domain D")  
and their properties and relations (rather than the clinical  
"functions on, and subsets of, D").  When such an intended model for  
an ontology exists, it is important that it be conveyed along with  
the axioms to give users a clear intuitive picture of the subject  
matter the ontology is designed to characterize.  In my view, a bare  
collection of axioms with no description of an intended model runs a  
great risk of being "way too abstract".

-chris

On Aug 1, 2007, at 11:26 AM, Kathryn Blackmond Laskey wrote:

> Chris,
>
> Your remark hearkens back to our discussion of what an ontology is  
> really about.
>
> Model theoretic semantics says there is a domain D, which is a set,  
> and the objects, attributes and relationships defined in the  
> ontology refer to elements of, functions defined on, and subsets of  
> this set D.
>
> Many people feel this is way too abstract.  "But my ontology of  
> horse racing is about horses!!!  And jockeys and racetracks and  
> betting odds!  It emphatically is not about sets!"
>
> We have had many heated discussions in this forum about whether  
> sentences in a biology textbook are about cells in the world or  
> about cells in a biological model of cells.  Jon suggested maybe  
> they are about both. That they can be about both is why engineering  
> works!  It's why you can get up in the morning expecting your car  
> to start, the traffic lights to work, and the bridge not to collapse.
>
> Engineers build a computer model of the bridge because there is a  
> great deal less loss of life and a much greater return on the  
> dollar from building computer simulations of cars driving across  
> the bridge and testing out various designs before setting the  
> cement mixers and beam layers to work.  We have learned in the  
> school of hard knocks that it is not a good idea to try out a  
> bridge design by building it and seeing whether it collapses under  
> the load we put on it.
>
> The equations the engineer programs into the simulation are about  
> the bridge model.  The engineer uses this fact to debug her  
> simulation and to test out various bridge designs by changing  
> aspects of the computer model. Because the equations are about the  
> model, she can be confident that changes in parameters of the model  
> will result in changes to the simulation output that accurately  
> reflect her intentions.  The equations are also about the actual  
> bridge that is going to be built.  Well, to be precise, the  
> equations for the discarded designs are about bridges she is  
> considering building, and the ones in the final design are about  
> the bridge she plans to build, but they will probably be modified  
> somewhat by the time concrete is poured.  In any case, because the  
> equations are about both the bridge model and the bridge, she can  
> be confident (if it's a good model) that predictions she makes on  
> the basis of the simulation (such as how much load the bridge can  
> bear) will be true of the actual bridge when it is built.  Thus,  
> the fact that the assertions are true both of the bridge model and  
> the real bridge is the reason that engineers can design bridges  
> that can carry the traffic they are designed to carry.  Our lives  
> depend on this vital characteristic of models.
>
> Some of the very same equations could, under different  
> circumstances, be used to model airplanes or electrical circuits or  
> pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.  That is the beauty of  
> mathematics.  There are common mathematical structures that are  
> generally useful across a wide variety of problem domains.  It is  
> also the bane of students who are interested in nursing or robotics  
> or baseball, but have to sit through a generic mathematics course  
> that either uses almost no examples or requires them to do problems  
> about applications about which they don't care a hoot.  This gives  
> rise to frequent turf wars between the math department, which is  
> sure the psychology department or the nursing school is incapable  
> of teaching math the way it ought to be taught, and the nursing  
> school or psychology department, which complains that the  
> mathematicians lose the students by teaching abstractions divorced  
> from applications that would hold the students' interest.   
> Probably, both are right -- that's part of the price we pay for  
> mass-producing education.  But that's a different soap-box.
>
> Kathy
>
>
>
> At 10:31 AM -0500 8/1/07, Christopher Menzel wrote:
>> > The scopes and subject matters of Ontology and Logic shouldn't be
>> > mixed.
>> > The real semantics or meanings of any symbolism or notation is
>> > defined by
>> > ontology;
>>
>> Silly me, I've been thinking that the real semantics of any symbolism
>> is defined by, you know, its *semantics*.
>>
>> -chris
>>
>>
>> _________________________________________________________________
>> Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/
>> Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog- 
>> forum/
>> Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@ontolog.cim3.net
>> Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
>> Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/
>> To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@ontolog.cim3.net
>>
>
>
> _________________________________________________________________
> Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/
> Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog- 
> forum/
> Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@ontolog.cim3.net
> Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
> Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/
> To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@ontolog.cim3.net
>
Received on Wednesday, 1 August 2007 16:40:24 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 26 March 2013 21:45:17 GMT