W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-webont-wg@w3.org > November 2002

Re: SEM: Light review of semantics document

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 19:51:08 -0500
Message-Id: <p05111b09ba0089df0ee3@[]>
To: Jim Hendler <hendler@cs.umd.edu>
Cc: www-webont-wg@w3.org

>>If by, "I believe strongly that this is not a critical issue of language
>>design, it's simply a suggestion we develop consistent terms so we
>>get our message out," you mean that you just want a term that we will
>>agree to employ in our human interchange, and not something in the OWL
>>language, then that's fine, make something up and we'll add it to the
>that's all I was asking for
>>It appeared from the discussion that Jeff and you wanted something more
>>formal, that required an adjustment to the meaning of the owl:ontology
>I didn't, I can't speak for Jeff as to whether he did or not.
>>In the Guide, Mike and I chose to employ "ontology" (not the tag, but the
>>natural language term) to refer to what we "traditionally" (it's a short
>>tradition) call ontology in Computer Science, and "knowledge base"
>>to refer to a mixture of ontology and instance data.  We did not draw
>>the distinction you want there, but if I understand you
>>correctly, the Guide is right place to talk about this.
>I think that "knowledge base," although a good descriptor of these 
>documents, may not go over well with some of our target audience.

It is kind of a silly term, when you look at it dispassionately.

>  In some of the RDF docs these are called "RDF Databases" which also 
>seems problematic (i.e. "OWL databases" seems misleading.)

I agree with you there.

>  I liked something like "Owl data documents" but that seems to be 
>what got this debate going in the first place.
>So I'm not sure, but "Owl data XXX" for some XXX seems to me to be 
>the one that would best fit audience expectations

Its OK to say that RDF docs using OWL-defined terms are *often* used 
to encode data (particularly as it happens to be true :-) and to 
refer to such docs as OWL data documents, and say that the OWL doing 
the defining can be seen as playing something like the role of a data 
schema. But make sure that you also say that this is a *common 
practice*, not a matter of definition; that people should not assume 
that all RDF docs are like this; that one can use both RDF and OWL in 
other ways; and that as Jonathan emphasized, there is in fact no 
built-in sharp boundary between instance data and defining ontologies 
in this family of languages. It is particularly important to 
emphasize this latter point as many of our readers will find the idea 
that there is no such sharp boundary new, and may be surprised by it, 
and we want to make sure they don't accidentally assume it is there 
and incorporate it into software, say. (That is, if they do so 
incorporate it, that they do so with their eyes open.)


PS, This terminological discussion has got zilch to do with the use 
of the formal tags, seems to me, which is where we started from.

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Received on Tuesday, 19 November 2002 19:51:11 UTC

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