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Re: [semanticweb] how to explain to humans the term ontology

From: Pierre Grenon <pierregrenon@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2006 03:21:42 +0100
Message-ID: <c1a7d8fd0601111821i43dd6f13jbb4d6c361c91141d@mail.gmail.com>
To: Azamat <abdoul@cytanet.com.cy>
Cc: "Wojick, David" <WojickD@osti.gov>, semanticweb@yahoogroups.com, semantic-web@w3.org

On 1/11/06, Azamat <abdoul@cytanet.com.cy> wrote:
> ''Ontology is a field of computer science which is primarily occupied with
> methods and tools for structuring data processed by computer applications..''
> ...''I like this approach Pierre.''
>
> I wonder how this mess can be declared and supported on the public listing,
> which involves many readers, even allowing the freedom of speech principle.

I wonder for my part how you can be offended by such a general
statement. The challenge was to give a 'layman' account of ontology.
Compare with a definition of mathematics as a scientific discipline
occupied with tools and methods for dealing with numbers.

> It is a common place that [Ontology is an account of reality and realities].

Last I heard of, it was common place in this field that ontology is
about 'specification of conceptualizations'. You must be referring to
philosophical ontology.

> Thus it concerns with [the entity and relation types in the world] at the
> first place.

I was referring to ontology as a field in computer science. As such
ontology is a field of computer science and not of philosophy which is
what I think you have in mind here.

Now, there is what ontology is in computer science and how it should
be done. I stick with the view that CS ontology is about alleged facts
such as reported in databases. Nevertheless, I agree, if that is your
point, that this should be done in the way that ontology is done in
philosophy and with the same horizon, namely reality. But that debate
is not relevant here.

> Only at the second, it studies how the realities [world things]
> relate to the concepts and associations in the mind,

That's not ontology, that might be epistemology and taken literally
that's merely psychology. Such talk of concepts and mind is garbage
for the purpose of ontology, in fact both philosophical and computer
science ontology.

> to the coded
> representations and structures in machines,

I'm saying CS ontology is what supports making these, but I'm not
convinced it's studying them.

> and to the words and sentences
> in natural languages.

Natural language semantics is garbage too (for the purpose of
ontology, I'm not saying it's pure garbage).

> That's it. No need to invent the wheel and tax your mind.
>
> Only as a regional ontology, it may be a computing (programming) ontology, a
> field of computer science....

What does regionality has to do with this?

> Moreover, the computing ontology gives not
> only the tools for organizing information (data) but also [the mechanisms of
> reasoning over data], like it is correctly proposed by Tim et al. in the
> Semantic Web article.

Maybe 'tools' isn't a general enough term for your liking then. Or
maybe I don't I understand what you mean by mechanisms for reasoning
over data.

Telling somebody what ontology is does not necessarily require that we
aknowledge all subtleties, methodologies, techniques, paradigms or
applications; giving a rough idea should suffice. You don't think that
what's so peculiar about computer science ontology is that it deals
with the structuration of data?

Cheers,
Pierre



> Azamat Abdoullaev
> http://www.eis.com.cy
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Wojick, David" <WojickD@osti.gov>
> To: "Pierre Grenon" <pierregrenon@gmail.com>
> Cc: <>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 11:29 PM
> Subject: RE: [semanticweb] how to explain to humans the term ontology
>
>
> >I like this approach Pierre. It is what I would call the modest end of the
> >spectrum, nothing about reading and reasoning. As a journalist I would use
> >the modest or the ambitious versions depending on the audience.
> >
> > My one major concern is that "data" is often thought of as numbers, and
> > data processing as number crunching. That is why I talk about words and
> > text documents. Do you want to try re-phrasing?
> >
> > On a smaller scale the use of "template" seems technical and unnecessary.
> > Why not just say "applied to raw data, an ontology produces structured
> > data." Also, the map legend analogy does not work for me, because I don't
> > think of the legend as being applied.
> >
> > Precise definition and explanation can be fun and is certainly tough. I
> > have worked on drafting federal regulations where every word counts and
> > vast sums are on the line. Defining "hazardous waste" for example.
> >
> > Best regards,
> >
> > David
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Pierre Grenon [mailto:pierregrenon@gmail.com]
> > Sent: Wed 1/11/2006 11:51 AM
> > To: Wojick, David
> > Cc: semanticweb@yahoogroups.com
> > Subject: Re: [semanticweb] how to explain to humans the term ontology
> >
> > Greetings,
> >
> > That's a funny, even if tough, exercise. Here's what I'd put without
> > shame in a document for non specialists worrying about ontologies in
> > information science:
> >
> > Ontology is a field of computer science which is primarily occupied
> > with methods and tools for structuring data processed by computer
> > applications. An ontology is like a template (applied to raw data, it
> > produces structured data) and can be compared to the the legend of a
> > map. Ontologically structured data has an added value which benefits a
> > wide range of computer applications such as, for instance,
> > classification of products and services, indexing of documents,
> > processing of natural language, extraction of inexplicit information.
> >
> > Cheers,
> > Pierre
> >
> > On 1/5/06, Wojick, David <WojickD@osti.gov> wrote:
> >> How about these three sentences?
> >>
> >>  An ontology is a set of definitions and other important connections
> >> between words in a selected group of words. Ontologies are designed to
> >> help computers process text documents. The goal is for computers to
> >> simulate reading by humans.
> >>
> >>  (Basically what ontologies are, what they do, and why we care.)
> >>
> >>  David
> >>
> >> "David E. Wojick, Ph.D." <WojickD@osti.gov>
> >> Senior Consultant
> >> Innovations in Scientific Knowledge and Advancement (ISKA)
> >> http://www.osti.gov/iska
> >> A strategic initiative of the Office of Scientific and Technical
> >> Information, US Department of Energy
> >>
> >> (540) 858-3136
> >> 391 Flickertail Lane, Star Tannery, VA 22654 USA
> >> http://www.bydesign.com/powervision/resume.html provides my bio and
> >> client list
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From:   Bernd Mueller [mailto:bernd@smu-mail.de]
> >> Sent:   Tue 1/3/2006 4:17 AM
> >> To:     semanticweb@yahoogroups.com
> >> Cc:
> >> Subject:        [semanticweb] how to explain humans the term ontology
> >>
> >> Hello list,
> >>
> >> I have workd for a long term on semantic web technologies ... But there
> >> is a problem growing more and more.
> >>
> >> How can I explain the term ontology to people who are not familiar with
> >> computer science?
> >>
> >> Is it not possible or am I too much inside this area?
> >>
> >> How can I explain the term ontology in three sentences and easy words to
> >> a normal person?
> >>
> >> Greets,
> >> Bernd
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Yahoo! Groups Links
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Received on Thursday, 12 January 2006 04:17:23 UTC

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