Re: [ontac-forum] Semantics and Ontology (former What should be in an upper-level ontology)


Essentially determining the nature of meaning (and significance), this matter is the core issue not only for a unified computing ontology but also for the machine processed semantics, the key element of the semantic web. For signs (as the words of different languages) must be related to concepts and ontological entities only by a many-to-one relationship: from the words of natural languages (or the symbols of formal ontology languages) to the concepts of the mind (the constructs of knowledge machines) to the categories of ontology (the kinds of things in the world).  As an example, consider the class of relationship, which can expressed by as many names as 'connection', 'association', 'link', 'reference', 'regard', 'tie', 'bond'; or indicated by as many verbs as 'to relate', 'associate', link', 'link up', 'connect', 'tie-in', 'colligate', 'refer', pertain', 'concern', 'bear on', etc. Or, take the class of events expressed by as many words as 'happening', 'occurrence', 'occurrent', 'contingency', 'outcome', 'effect', 'issue', 'upshot', 'result', etc. For instance, the process (event) of fire is that significance which the name 'fire' has when it denotes the natural phenomenon. There is a plenty of natural languages using their specific signs for this process, nevertheless having always the same signification, since  the concept of fire is the same and the human experience is the same, regardless of its numerous expressions in different natural or artificial languages: 'fire', 'Feuer', 'ogon', etc.. 
So, semantic system may be constructed as a formal semantics or as a more comprehensive and consistent, real world semantics; namely:

Formal Semantic System = sign (symbol) system (the SW languages, XML, RDF, OWL) + axioms (mathematical or formal logical) + designation rules (the semantic function from the set of language expressions into the collection of constructs)

Real Semantic System = sign (symbol) system + axioms (ontological, mathematical, formal logical) + designation rules + semantic assumptions (the reference function from constructs to real objects cum the representation function from constructs to the state spaces of the world) (ontological entities).

Thus, unlike the formal Semantic Web, the real Semantic Web includes the correspondence (reification) rules from constructs to real world entities (semantic assumptions), which parallels the semantic systems of natural and social sciences.

As a consequence, the Real Semantic Web (or the world wide intelligent Web) as the pinnacle of ontological semantic technology involves a grand trio of knowledge domains making the Knowledge Trinity: 

1. The world science of Ontology caring the real entities, underlying constraints, principles, truths, and strategic rules; 

2. Semantics managing the whole works of meanings;

3. Syntax doing business with languages, the signs, and the rules of meaningful constructions. 


As in the Holy Trinity, each member of the Knowledge Trinity has its unique goal and role. The goal of ontology is to formulate the overall patterns and fundamental laws of the universe, while its role is to set the world models, rules, and reasoning algorithms for advanced information technology. Syntax supplies the totality of signs, marks, and expressions as formal or natural languages with their operation, formation and transformation rules. Semantics is aimed to provide a general theory of meaning relations between signs, constructs and things, assigning signification to syntactic structures and meanings to conceptual structures. So, semantics integrates the totality of signs, signals or symbols, the domain of knowledge, and the universe of ontological entities and relationships into a comprehensive knowledge and reasoning context (a unified ontology framework), serving as the world modeling framework for all sorts of emerging intellectual information and communications technologies. 

Azamat Abdoullaev

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ken Ewell" <>
To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <>
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2006 7:26 AM
Subject: Re: [ontac-forum] What should be in an upper-level ontology

> JS> Words must be related to ontologies, but that mapping is a complex 
> many-to-many [or one?] relationship between the words of any natural 
> language and the categories of an ontology.
> No doubt. Words must be related to ontologies. It is many to many and 
> one to one. depending only on the given.
>> JS > .any upper level should be as *neutral* as possible. The upper 
>> levels should have very few axioms.
> No doubt. I did not offer axioms in the previous post. It does not mean 
> I do not have them.  Consider an axiom that defines a set, named, 
> appropriately, {self, others} and what falls between.
>> JS > A truly neutral upper level should avoid any commitment to what 
>> is considered essential vs. what is considered accidental.
>> JS > the upper level is much less important than the mid and lower 
>> levels. Don't waste more time and money on things that don't matter.
> I do not know exactly.  My experience is that I was given the upper 
> level while the lower levels, though muddled,  were made to experience 
> and made to fit, as it were.  Just the knowledge of the upper level made 
> things in the lower and middle layers fit -- that, in my mind, may not 
> have fit before; I learned.  I did not alter my way of thinking in that 
> I adapted to new facts.
> -Ken Ewell
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Received on Monday, 22 May 2006 20:16:31 UTC