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RE: [ontac-forum] Ontology Architecture and Ontology-Based Systems

To: <rhodgson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "psp" <psp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 18:26:41 -0700
Message-id: <CBEELNOPAHIKDGBGICBGGEBBGOAA.psp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Unfortunately the Powers that Be require membership and expenditure to read the paper by Fensel et al.
This stops me from understanding what the changes are to the layer cake, or making a first hand evaluation of whether these changes are signitficant or simply change because they, the W3C, feel the heat generated from an absence of real progress.  Change does not equal progress.
The other reference ULRs give abstracts that declare in uncertain terms that some new system does wonderful things.  I have spend the time and money to get to the full papers enough to suspect that nothing new will be in these papers....
except a few things - which I would really like to appreicate. 
The statement that a single foundation might not be practical is percisely what Sir Roger Penrose says (of physics) in "The Road to Reality".  Of course an agreement about such things cannot make Sir Roger respectable in the minds of the Semantic Web community.  Nothing can do that. 
This "systhesis" of modern work in the philosophy of science, and the practice of science is in line with the notion that HUMAN intrepretation is critical.  If the ontology is to lose the property of being changable through real time interpretation, then this loss may lead to failures of the system to be relevent and truthful. 
How does one objectively evaluate whether or not there is progress in a field where it is necessary that one only speak as if everything is fine and that we need only continue to move in the direction that (someone) has set for us.
I know what probabilistic Bayesian or other wise, reasoning is and where the issues are regarding the use of output from such systems.  I know the deep mathematics involved, unlike 75% of the people who write about such things. 
I know the limitations of such "reasoning", and I know that the term "reasoning" is being misused or at least used in a way that is not consistant with how the word "reasoning" is used by an person, say the President of the United States.
I am grateful for your message in answer to my question, however.
With respects,
Paul Prueitt
-----Original Message-----
From: Ralph Hodgson [mailto:rhodgson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2005 5:14 PM
To: psp
Cc: ONTAC-WG General Discussion
Subject: Re: [ontac-forum] Ontology Architecture and Ontology-Based Systems

In my original post, I said:

"One of the most forward-looking aspects of our current work is in pluggable architecture for reasoning engines. The goal is to be able to use different types of reasoning over a given knowledgebase combining, for example, probabilistic (Bayesian) reasoning with rule-based reasoning."

I elaborate as follows:

My intent is to indicate the work we are doing that is in alignment with progress others are making with practical experiences of building ontology-based systems.. A number of relevant and interesting papers on this topic at ISWC 2005 and RuleML 2005  (seel also http://2005.ruleml.org/) indicate this progress. Many state that a single foundation for everything may not be practical. Going forward with more than one approach to knowledge representationand reasoning  will be important to responding to different application needs.

The layer cake reflects some of the new thinking. The common foundation of URIs, XML and RDF remain as the base. This, however, does not mean that, for example, that business rules will be written in RDF, but rather that they will be able to operate on RDF data. I reference Michael Kifer, Jos de Bruijn, Harold Boley and Dieter Fensel: "A Realistic Architecture for the Semantic Web",  a paper from the RuleML 2005 conference explaining some of the ideas behind changes in the semantic web layer cake. Tim Berners-Lee talk includes the layered cake on slide 12.

Ralph Hodgson
Executive Partner
TopQuadrant, Inc., www.topquadrant.com
Office: (724) 846-9300 ext. 211,
Direct: (703) 960-1028, Fax: (425) 955-5469, Cell: (781) 789-1664
blog: http://topquadrant.typepad.com/ralph_hodgson/

psp wrote:
Because I want to have a bit more formating to the discussion: I posted your note at
with a reply at
as follows:

Ralph, I am appreciative that you made a communication into this discussion.  (see [220] )

My position is that a National Project to establish the knowledge sciences would allow all who might lead us into something more functional and useful, to lead.  My position is that the nation suffers because of the control of the standard?s process narrow business interests and because of the legacy where many of the academic issues are confused.  John Sowa?s position is similar in many respects, as is yours, Ralph.  We all make compromises that we would rather not.  You once told me that you would have preferred to work with Topic Maps but that you had to work with RDF in order to get the work with the web services working group. 

Certainly Top Quadrant would be one of the leaders.  You and your group has been an excellent leader even in the less than optimal development environment that we have been dealing with for over a decade. 

Why not work to change the conditions under which we work?  Is this possible, and still bring forward those systems that are deployed or which are close to being deployed.  Is there an agreement that things could be much better in terms of developing the best systems for e-government. 

The knowledge sharing foundation concept would provide a proving ground for concepts, and would establish transparency on what does not work, and what has not been able to demonstrate results that are consistent with expectations.  I originally proposed a Manhattan Type Project related to knowledge management and knowledge representation in 1993. 

Four additional comments about your thoughtful communication:

One:  Regarding our freedom and the concept of a Democracy

 John?s communication [217] contained the following:


Your statement ?An ontology can be merely a set of well defined concepts, without logic. ?

This may be a true statement, but it is irrelevant

<end quote>

and then:


On the other hand -- which is the hand holding the money that funds projects like ONTAC -- formal ontology can be applied to the task of *legislating* how various computer programs are specified to handle the much narrower, much more specialized, and very much more precise categories that are implemented in computer systems that are required to interoperate

<end quote>

The rest of John?s communication [217] demonstrates good synthesis over what is possible given the situation with funding and with the types of very poor peer review that has been demonstrated over the past decade.  ( see case study) 

By poor peer review, I specifically mean specific individuals who have disallowed diversity, taken a narrow viewpoint, assumed an king like role of authority (example: Hendler at Univ of MD), and (also specifically) slowed down the progress on Topic Map type systems.  (Again for those who do not follow this history between the RDF/Tim Berners-Lee?s Layer cake model verses a Topic Map model; the difference has to do with the role of human?s in making interpretations.) 

My response [218] is out of great personal frustration, awareness of many others who are in the same state as I am in. 

Two: On the modified Tim Berners-Lee?s Layer Cake Model of the Semantic Web architecture

In your note you make reference to a recent TBL?s talk

see http://www.w3.org/2005/Talks/1110-iswc-tbl/#(12)

Tim Berners-Lee's talk at ISWC2005,

And I find something that is barely comprehensible.  There is almost no organization to what I find at this URL.  What is there can be understood only if you are part of an in-crowd, in my opinion.  And, there is no mention of Topic Maps or any other standard other than the one his group (the W3C) is pushing.  There is no description of problems that are faced by the community that is working on the new technologies.

Ralph, you mentioned that the layer cake was modified.  How?  I do not see any changes to this misfortunate diagram (criticized by John Sowa on many occasions). 

Three: On reasoning engines

Ralph said:

One of the most forward-looking aspects of our current work is in pluggable architecture for reasoning engines. The goal is to be able to use different types of reasoning over a given knowledgebase combining, for example, probabilistic (Bayesian) reasoning with rule-based reasoning.

Communication this morning from a colleague: ?Similar situation here.  We are all in the same boat.  There are many signs that the tyranny is beginning to end, despite lots of grandstanding.?

Given that this is an area that I feel that the W3C makes profound mistakes in, and the Topic Maps conventions do not, I would like to know why you feel that there is progress.

Four: On my position

Many people know me, and my positions.  In the meeting at GSA, and other places, we have seen the continual influence and dominate control by individuals who admit that their interests are in making money through consulting.  We have seen the language at the GSA meetings become about ?lines of business? as opposed to ?processes?. 

This ?lines of business? language occurs in a larger context, as John pointed on in private correspondence.  This context is the failures of our government to stop War Profiteering. 

In Virginia, my state issued drivers license has my identification as a ?customer? rather than as a ?citizen?.  For me this simple use of language tells it all.

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