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Re: SUO: Re: REQUEST: survey of available ontologies, taxonomies, thesauri, lexicons?

From: Bill Andersen <andersen@ontologyworks.com>
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 2002 13:43:49 -0600
To: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@bestweb.net>
CC: SUO <standard-upper-ontology@ieee.org>, Ontoweb <seweb-list@cs.vu.nl>, W3C Web Ontology WG <www-webont-wg@w3.org>, RDF <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>, protege-discussion <protege-discussion@smi.stanford.edu>, <cg@cs.uah.edu>
Message-ID: <B8CE1495.35FC%andersen@ontologyworks.com>
On 4/1/02 12:24, "John F. Sowa" <sowa@bestweb.net> wrote:

> Bill and Charles,
> The preface of the best available book on knowledge representation
> discusses the following 3-way subdivision:
>   Knowledge representation is a multidisciplinary subject that applies
>   theories and techniques from three other fields:
>   1. Logic provides the formal structure and rules of inference.
>   2. Ontology defines the kinds of things that exist in the application
>      domain.
>   3. Computation supports the applications that distinguish knowledge
>      representation from pure philosophy.
>   Without logic, a knowledge representation is vague, with no criteria
>   for determining whether statements are redundant or contradictory.
>   Without ontology, the terms and symbols are ill-defined, confused,
>   and confusing. And without computable models, the logic and ontology
>   cannot be implemented in computer programs. Knowledge representation
>   is the application of logic and ontology to the task of constructing
>   computable models for some domain.

John, sound advice.  I totally agree.

> BA> That said, WE SHOULD NOT fool ourselves that any of these quick fix
>> tools (RDF(/S), XML(/S), DAML) are going to solve the real problems
>> of (applied) ontology, let alone the two relatively easy ones I
>> mentioned above.  The long range solution to problems of data and
>> information system integration depend on their solution.
> I would add that such XML-based tools can be used to encode a suitable
> ontology, but only *after* some suitable logic-based tools are used to
> define it.  My major complaint about much of the work on the semantic
> web is that people have drawn their diagrams to show that logic is built
> on top of XML and RDF.  I would turn those diagrams upside-down to show
> that a suitable logic-based methodology is necessary *before* you can
> begin to use RDF effectively.

This is the part that causes me alarm, John.  There are several relatively
weak representation formalisms out there that are being touted as suitable
for building "ontologies", most notably in the WWW/W3C communities.  XML/S
is only one of those often heard of in this connection.  The claim that they
are sufficient for ontology is implicit in the advertisement of this or that
project, written in these formalisms, as "ontology".

These languages *are* logics of a sort.  Worse yet is that they pack in all
kinds of implicit philosophical assumptions that, in the hundreds of pages
of detailed specifications that come with these beasts, get lost in the
noise.  Nobody (probably even the language designers) know they are there.

But they (the philosophical assumptions) have real impact.  Necessarily
existing properties?  No problem: OIL (or any DL) has 'em!  No theory of
identity?  No problem: different name -> different object!   Relational
properties (e.g. "Italian")?  No problem: they don't exist because they
cause computational problems.

As a friend of mine always says, let's not confuse activity with progress.


Bill Andersen
Chief Scientist, Ontology Works
1132 Annapolis Road, Suite 104
Odenton, Maryland, 21113
Mobile: 443-858-6444
Office: 410-674-7600
Web: http://www.ontologyworks.com
Received on Monday, 1 April 2002 14:44:02 UTC

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