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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@[]>
To: Jeff Heflin <heflin@cse.lehigh.edu>
Cc: webont <www-webont-wg@w3.org>
>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
>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.
>>    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?

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Received on Monday, 18 February 2002 15:35:50 UTC

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