Formal Objection: Issue 5.6 Daml:imports as magic syntax

The working group has chosen to accept a proposal to make owl:imports 
an important part of the language, with a specific formalization of 
the entailments that result from importing another ontology.  While I 
don't think anything is horribly wrong with the notion of ontologies 
importing others, I believe it is much too early in the history of 
ontologies on the web to be proscribing the properties of imports -- 
we are hitting an important issue with a very blunt hammer. In 
particular, it is the view of myself, and my organization, that 
ontologies will be far more prevalent, far more linked, and far more 
inconsistent and "scruffy" than some in the WG currently believe.  (I 
do admit I am somewhat radical in my view of this, to the point where 
some in the DARPA DAML community refer to it as the "Hendler 
Hypothesis," not always in flattering terms).

  I believe the group would have been better off postponing the issue 
of imports -- thus, permitting more freedom to implementors with 
respect to how they wished to design reasoners and other OWL tools 
that used imports and related language features.  I also believe that 
imports and similar functionality will be important at all levels of 
the Semantic Web, and thus would prefer a more basic mechanism 
provided by RDF itself.  In light of all the uncertainties with 
respect to how best to handle this important issue, I felt an 
objection was required.
  -Jim Hendler
   AC Rep. University of Maryland MIND Laboratory

Professor James Hendler
Director, Semantic Web and Agent Technologies	  301-405-2696
Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Lab.	  301-405-6707 (Fax)
Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742	  240-731-3822 (Cell)

Received on Friday, 28 March 2003 15:23:47 UTC