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Re: [ontac-forum] Surveyed Ontology "Library" Systems -- parts

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Barry Smith <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 01 Nov 2005 11:59:33 -0500
Message-id: <>
At 11:21 AM 11/1/2005, you wrote:
>I am assuming that any policy of supporting interoperable
>ontologies would presuppose a formal logic.  Without that,
>there is no hope of success.
>JS>> 3. In order to keep track of how theories are related
> >>      to one another it is essential to show how they
> >>      can be derived from or be converted into one another
> >>      by the AGM operators for belief revision: contraction,
> >>      expansion, and revision.
>BS> Would this not impose significant constraints (in terms of
> > formalisms used) and costs (in terms of the hours of expert
> > manpower needed to translate existing ontologies into such
> > formalisms) in order to bring about a situation in which
> > the AGM operators can be applied?
>I would assume that all ontologies would be specified in some
>formally defined notation that could be translated to a common
>form just by pushing a button.  The currently proposed ISO
>standard for Common Logic, for example, already subsumes a
>large number of common notations, including all the versions
>used for the Semantic Web (e.g., RDF(S), OWL, and the more
>recent proposals for rule-based languages).  CL also supports
>a superset of the semantics of many other versions of logic,
>including Z, Conceptual Graphs, and various semantically clean
>Horn-clause languages.    (01)

One problem is that much of the best work in biomedical ontology is 
not formulated in any of the languages covered by CL.    (02)

Another problem is that many of the ontologies which are so covered 
are sealed off from each other by the use of separate namespaces.    (03)

>This proposal allows people to use any language they prefer,
>as long as it is automatically translatable to a common form.    (04)

... but the results will presumable still be sealed off from each 
other by the use of separate namespaces    (05)

>BS> And we will get formal sophistication in regard to the latter
> > (e.g. in such a way that the AGM operators can be supplied)
> > only when the ontology community finally gets clearer about
> > the difference between instances and universals.
>I completely agree.  And the best way to get people to understand
>that point is to give them tools that enforce the distinction.
>In logic, the distinction is very precise:  universals map
>to things called types, predicates, relations, or functions,
>and instances are referenced by variables that appear in the
>arguments of those things.  (Of course, we also want to allow
>quantifiers that range over functions, relations, and types,
>but that is an issue to be discussed at the second step.)    (06)

I agree. But would also like to point out that some of the most 
interesting developments allow argument-variables to range over both 
instances and universals. Hence I think people need to understand the 
distinction independently of recognizing the need to use logical 
symbolism correctly.
BS     (07)

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