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Re: Fractal communities: Was: Rich semantics and expressiveness

From: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 10:26:24 +0100
Message-ID: <1f2ed5cd0703060126i9578520ua4aabd97102755e0@mail.gmail.com>
To: "David Price" <david.price@eurostep.com>
Cc: "Tim Berners-Lee" <timbl@w3.org>, "Hans Teijgeler" <hans.teijgeler@quicknet.nl>, SW-forum <semantic-web@w3.org>, "West, Matthew" <matthew.west@shell.com>

On 06/03/07, David Price <david.price@eurostep.com> wrote:

Engineering applications are typically complex
> and are based on information models/ontologies that have precise
> definitions - i.e. the information models/ontologies themselves are
> engineered.

I'm sorry, you lost me somewhere around here. While I can see that
engineering systems are likely to be based on precise definitions, I
don't really see how the creation of information models/ontologies in
this domain should be more or less engineered than that of other

Also, I may be missing something here, but I would have thought that
starting from precise definitions would actually simplify the process
of ontology creation, in that the modelling would be more a case of
translation from those definitions into the ontology language. In
contrast, I imagine that a modelling problem in, say, the life
sciences would typically be trickier, given the greater potential for
uncertainty due to the complexity of the systems being described.

To support the engineering disciplines, evolving, fractal
> ontologies present problems for which there is not currently a solution - or
> at least not a cost effective solution. That's why the top down, upper
> ontology approach can be a solution to "the problem" ... we simply have a
> different problem in the engineering world.

A question I'd ask here is where you see the (effective) top of such
an ontology? Are we talking about something like Sowa's lattice of
top-level categories [1]? It seems to me more likely that the
sub-disciplines of engineering are likely to have their own fairly
local requirements - for example the physical/chemical modelling of
solid-state electronics is likely to have a different emphasis
compared to that of mathematical modelling of abstract systems like
operational amplifiers.

In any case, I don't see a conflict here with the fractal picture -
even assuming a combined, integrated top-down engineering ontology, it
would still appear as a big artifact amongst many others of varying
sizes in the universe of ontologies.

> I am, of course, painting a far picture wrt what's in use by engineering
> enterprises today. However, the aims of many are pushing more and more into
> standards of many varieties - even to the point of standardizing the
> applications themselves (e.g. the OMG SysML Systems Modeling Language
> extension to UML).

That's an interesting point, on the one hand such standardisation
should make for more effective ontological modelling, on the other it
may increase the distance between modelling languages designed to be
generic (such as OWL) and those local to the domains. I don't know if
the net effect would be increased or decreased interoperability.


[1] http://www.jfsowa.com/ontology/toplevel.htm


Received on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 09:26:29 UTC

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