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Re: Fractal communities: Was: Rich semantics and expressiveness

From: Richard H. McCullough <rhm@PioneerCA.com>
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2007 18:30:32 -0800
Message-ID: <367DD7A915FD4DADB92A30046EE325CE@rhmlaptop>
To: "Hans Teijgeler" <hans.teijgeler@quicknet.nl>, "'Tim Berners-Lee'" <timbl@w3.org>
Cc: "'SW-forum'" <semantic-web@w3.org>, "'West, Matthew'" <matthew.west@shell.com>

I have personally been working very hard to integrate ontologies from
many sources, expressed in RDF, OWL, DAML, CycL languages.
But nobody seems to give a damn!
99% of the responses to my work classify it as "spam".

Dick McCullough
mKE do enhance od "Real Intelligence" done;
knowledge := man do identify od existent done;
knowledge haspart proposition list;
http://mKRmKE.org/

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Hans Teijgeler" <hans.teijgeler@quicknet.nl>
To: "'Tim Berners-Lee'" <timbl@w3.org>
Cc: "'SW-forum'" <semantic-web@w3.org>; "'West, Matthew'" 
<matthew.west@shell.com>
Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2007 2:48 AM
Subject: RE: Fractal communities: Was: Rich semantics and expressiveness


>
> Hi Tim,
>
> In the eighties we, the EPC contractors (EPC = Engineering, Procurement,
> Construction) involved in the process industries (oil & gas, chemical, 
> etc),
> started working on sharing data amongst applications used within our own
> company. Handing over the data of any newly built plant to the
> Owner/Operator (e.g. Shell, DuPont) in an electronic format that makes
> sense, was and still is quite a problem.
>
> Then the ecomomy started to globalize, and the projects grew in size and
> complexity. As a result our business has become rather "promiscuous", i.e.
> we work together with many companies around the globe, including our
> competitors, in a different mix of partners and roles for each project.
> Given the fact that the larger EPC contractors work on some 1000 to 2000
> projects, very small to very large, at any time, you can see the problem.
> Our "community", using your term, spreads over the entire globe and over
> thousands of companies with umpty interrelated disciplines, each doing 
> their
> part, and each producing and requiring information. In the end there is 
> only
> ONE plant, materialwise fully integrated. But not so the representation of
> its information.
>
> The industry then picked up the concept of gathering and storing lifecycle
> information. In 1988 we started with data modelling, in 2003 it finally
> became an ISO standard (ISO 15926-2). The reference data (ISO
> 15926-4)(ontology) I mentioned is the result of work by hundreds of domain
> experts. We are working now on a Semantic Web implementation of all this
> (ISO 15926-7)[1].
>
> The contents of any domain-specific ontology, together with the data 
> model,
> allow for a standards-based representation of lifecycle information, at 
> any
> time allowing for true integration. That "standards-based" includes the
> applicable W3C standards.
>
> Your fractals-based approach is fine, but does not solve the problems of a
> global economy. It is like the situation that a community is communicating
> in some natural language, say Swahili, and no one can speak English (or 
> one
> of the other most-used languages). That community may be utterly happy, 
> but
> cannot participate in the global economy (or at least it does not help 
> much
> that they don't speak English).
>
> Besides that, "communities" of seemingly the same nature often have a
> different scope of activities, sometimes small (but annoying), sometimes
> large. Often this is caused by different legislation, education system,
> habits, etc. They then think that they cannot cooperate, and they start
> standardization for their own "parish".
>
> I think that we should strive for a generic information representation
> standard, including an upper ontology that has the blessing of the experts
> in that field, that plays the same role for data as English plays for
> representations in a natural language. RDF and OWL are the *means* to
> implement such a standard.
>
> Our approach is that we map the data of application systems at the source
> into the RDF/XML format, contentwise defined in ISO 15926-7, and store 
> that
> in a standard triple store with a standard API. We designed means to make
> such a triple store a member of a confederation (say per project), and can
> query (SPARQL) multiple triple stores inside such a confederation, 
> depending
> on access rights. If necessary the query results are mapped to the 
> internal
> format of the application system. Mapping is done only for data that are
> owned and that need to be shared.
>
> Are we there already? By no means! We are working on that on two 
> development
> projects [2][3]. But as the Chinese say: "even the longest journey takes a
> first step". Although, "first step"?.... we are 19 years underway by now,
> and we see our destination at the horizon, also thanks to the efforts of
> your organization.
>
> Regards,
> Hans
>
> [1] http://www.InfowebML.ws
> [2] http://www.fiatech.org/projects/idim/iso15926.html
> [3] http://www.posccaesar.com/
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tim Berners-Lee [mailto:timbl@w3.org]
> Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2007 0:28
> To: Hans Teijgeler
> Cc: SW-forum; West, Matthew
> Subject: Fractal communities: Was: Rich semantics and expressiveness
>
>
> On 2007-03 -03, at 05:19, Hans Teijgeler wrote:
>
>> Folks,
>>
>> In this context I would like to bring up something that keeps puzzling
>> me.
>>
>> The W3C Semantic Web Activity Statement [1] starts with:
>>
>> "The goal of the Semantic Web initiative is as broad as that of the
>> Web: to create a universal medium for the exchange of data. It is
>> envisaged to smoothly interconnect personal information management,
>> enterprise application integration, and the global sharing of
>> commercial, scientific and cultural data. Facilities to put machine-
>> understandable data on the Web are quickly becoming a high priority
>> for many organizations, individuals and communities."
>>
>> This is great, and it is what we strive for. But it is puzzling how
>> this can ever be achieved without a universal, generic, data-driven
>> model and standard data to drive that model. What I see happening is
>> that everybody can and often does invent instances of owl:Class and
>> owl:ObjectProperty on-the-fly, and then seems to expect that DL will
>> be the band-aid that solves all integration problems. In order to
>> assist the reasoners all sorts of qualifications are added (re
>> OWL1.1), but to me it seems that when this is done, actually a (rather
>> private) data model is created again.
>>
>> Above statement envisages the "smooth interconnection" of a plethora
>> of totally different application domains. That is wise, because we
>> live in one integrated universe (domain), and nobody can dictate where
>> one subdomain stops and the other begins.
>
> Rather than 'domain of discourse' , or set of things considered, I think 
> of
> 'community', set of agents communicating using certain terms.  When one
> thinks in terms of domain of discourse, one tends to conclude that 
> everyone
> who talk at all about a car (say) has cars in their domain of discourse 
> and
> so everyone must share the model which includes the single class Car.
>
> It isn't like that though.  An agent plays a role in many different
> overlapping communities.  When I tag a photo as being of my car, or I 
> agree
> to use my car in a car pool, or when I register the car with the Registry 
> of
> Motor Vehicles, I probably use different
> ontologies.   There is some finite  effort it would take to integrate
> the ontologies, to establish some OWL (or rules, etc) to link them.
>
> - Everyone is encouraged to reuse other people's classes and properties to
> the greatest extent they can.
> - Some ontologies will already exist and by publicly shared by many, such 
> as
> ical:dtstart, geo:longitude, etc.  This is the single global community.
> - Some ontologies will be established by smaller communities of many 
> sizes.
>
> Why do I think the structure should be will be fractal?  Clearly there 
> will
> be many more small communities, local ontologies, than global ones. Why a
> 1/f distribution? Well, it seems to occur in many
> systems including the web, and may be optimal for some problems.
> That we should design for a fractal distribution of ontologies is a hunch.
> But it does solve the issue you raise.  Some aspects of the web have been
> shown to be fractal already.
>
> Here are some properties of the interconnections:
>
> - The connections between the ontologies may be made after their creation,
> not necessarily involving the original ontology designers.
> - There is a cost of connecting ontologies, figuring out how they connect,
> which people will pay when and only when they need the benefit of extra
> interoperability.
> - Sometimes when connecting ontologies, it is so awkward there is pressure
> to change the terms that one community uses to fit in better with the 
> other
> community. Again, a finite cost to make the change, against a benefit or
> more interop.
>
>> Hence the need for a universal model as a common denominator. But it
>> is striking that the word "interconnection" was used, rather than
>> "integration". Interconnection reminds me of EAI [2], so hub- based or
>> point-to-point, where Semantic Web integration (as I understand it)
>> involves a web-based distributed data base.
>
> Yes, if web-based means an overlapping set of many ontologies in a fractal
> distribution.
> In his fractal tangle, there wil be several recurring patterns at 
> different
> scales.
> One pattern is a local integration within (say) an enterprise, which 
> starts
> point-point (problems scale as n^2) and then shifts with EIA
> to a hub-and-spoke as you say, where the effort scales as N.    Then
> the hub is converted to use RDF, and that means the hub then plugs into a
> external bus, as it connects to shared ontologies.
>
>> Keeping in mind that, as I wrote before in this thread, application
>> systems store a lot of implicit data (or actually don't store them),
>> the direct mapping of their data to the SW formats will cause more
>> problems than its solves. They are based on their own proprietary data
>> model, and these are unintelligible for other, equally proprietary,
>> data models.
>>
>> The thing puzzling me is how the SW community can see what I cannot
>> see, and that is how on earth you can achieve what your Activity
>> Statement says, without such a standard generic data model and derived
>> standard reference data (taxonomy and ontology). But perhaps not many
>> SW-ers bother about the need of universal integration, and are happily
>> operating within their own subdomain, such as FOAF.
>
> So the idea is that in any one message, some of the terms will be from a
> global ontology, some from subdomains.
> The amount of data which can be reused by another agent will depend on how
> many communities they have in common, how many ontologies they share.
>
> In other words, one global ontology is not a solution to the problem, and 
> a
> local subdomain is not a solution either.  But if each agent has uses a 
> mix
> of a few ontologies of different scale, that is forms a global solution to
> the problem.
>
> Tim.
>
>>
>> Can anybody enlighten me, at least by pointing to some useful links?
>>
>
> ummm   http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/Fractal.html  to which I might
> add this explanation some time.
>
>
>
>> Regards,
>> Hans
>>
>> PS The above does not mean that I have no faith in the SW. On the
>> contrary, I preach the SW gospel. But I just want to understand where
>> it is moving to.
>>
>> [1] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Activity
>> [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_Application_Integration
>>
>> ____________________
>> OntoConsult
>> Hans Teijgeler
>> ISO 15926 specialist
>> Netherlands
>> +31-72-509 2005
>> www.InfowebML.ws
>> hans.teijgeler@quicknet.nl
>>
>
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>
Dick McCullough
mKE do enhance od "Real Intelligence" done;
knowledge := man do identify od existent done;
knowledge haspart proposition list;
http://mKRmKE.org/
Received on Monday, 5 March 2007 02:31:29 GMT

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