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Re: "what is an ontology?" stuff in requirements abstract/intro

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 14:35:58 -0600
Message-Id: <p05101402b89714ac0e17@[65.212.118.219]>
To: Jeff Heflin <heflin@cse.lehigh.edu>
Cc: webont <www-webont-wg@w3.org>
>Dan,
>
>Most of these comments appear to be improvements, so we'll incoroprate
>them into the document. I'll work on a rewording of "the problems with
>lack of semantics in XML" to describe specific problems for specific
>uses.
>
>Jeff
>
>
>Dan Connolly wrote:
>>
>>  Our requirements document is going to
>>  be the first exposure that some folks
>>  get to our work; I can imagine
>>  it showing up in Robin Cover's XML
>>  new stuff; he'll probably grab the abstract:
>>
>>  "This document specifies goals, requirements, and usage scenarios for
>>  the OWL web ontology language."
>>
>>  I can imagine xml-dev/www-talk folks saying, "er..
>>  gee, thanks; now what's an ontology
>>  language?"
>>
>>  That's elaborated later in the document; let's
>>  see if there's some text to grab... yes:
>>
>>    Put simply, an ontology is just a set of
>>    standard vocabularly terms along with some
>>    formal definitions of the terms.
>>
>>  Lightly edited:
>>
>>    An ontology is vocabularly of terms along
>>    with some formal definitions of the terms.
>>

Err.. I'd prefer it if you could avoid using the word 'definition' 
here. The point being that ontologies only describe, in general, 
rather than define.  If we say that a description is a definition 
then we can get into all kinds of trouble, eg consider Peter's 
pseudo-paradox problem which arises from thinking of an RDF 
description as a *definition* of OWL syntax.
<snip>
>.....>
>>    The term ontology may be unfamiliar to many readers of
>>    this document.
>>
>>  That seems superfluous. I suggest striking it.
>>
>>    This notion of ontologies comes from Artificial Intelligence,
>>    where ontologies are used to allow heterogeneous systems to
>>    exchange and reason with information.
>>
>>  I'd suggest either citing specific work in this area
>>  or striking the reference to Artificial Intelligence.

I agree. In any case, you could equally well cite data modelling 
languages, say; and the basic ideas go back way before AI if you want 
to get historical, at least to the 1940s and maybe the 1880s.

>  >
>>    One of the problems with using ordinary XML is that the
>>    elements and attributes defined by DTDs or XML Schemas do
>>    not have any semantics associated with them;
>>
>>  I think a lot of folks in our audience see the lack
>>  of semantics in XML as a feature, not a problem.
>>  Even myself: I don't see a lack of semantics in XML
>>  as a problem with XML, any more than the lack
>>  of semantics in s-expressions or binary trees
>>  is a problem.

It's an opportunity for developers, but a problem for content 
providers. Who do we think we are talking to here?

Pat
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Received on Monday, 18 February 2002 15:35:50 GMT

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