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Re: [ontac-forum] A suggestion for ontological discussions at ONTAC meet

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Nicolas F Rouquette <nicolas.rouquette@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 11:16:09 -0800
Message-id: <43821CF9.3030707@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Gary Berg-Cross wrote:    (01)

> The round of topics exposed by the forum discussions since our first 
> meeting have been interesting, but convergence is hard to judge. To 
> help converge towards a consensus based on a focused exploration of 
> the issues I wonder if we can set up a panel (or two) on the issues at 
> the next ONTAC meeting. If I recall right we will have Doug Lenat for 
> a CYC briefing. That might be an opportunity to ask him about hub 
> versus John Sowa’s idea to:
> “/Shift attention from the unsolvable problem
> of building, merging, and coordinating global world views to
> /
Ok.    (02)

> /the task of developing an open-ended collection of modules
> that can be selected, assembled, and tailored for particular
> tasks or collections of tasks/.”
For that to happen, we need ways to specify such modules in terms of:
a) some kind of calculus for selecting, assembling, tailoring, etc...
b) an explicit notion of intended purpose that an extenal agent can 
attribute to a module    (03)

It would be difficult to do (a) within a single global world view
because we lack conceptual and relational redundancy to make useful 
claims of similarity, equivalence, etc...    (04)

In contrast, having multiple perspectives and points of view yields
redudancies for specifying concepts & their relationships. In this case,
it is natural to develop some kind of calculus to adjucate which 
are OK vs. inconsistent/incompatible or undesirable in some way.    (05)

Perhaps in an abuse of the term, the problem faced in ONTAC seems to me 
an issue of meta-ontology:    (06)

- how do we specify the context/scope of a module?    (07)

In a conventional approach, a module might be specified as a set of 
tasks and define the ontological concepts/relations
pertaining to these tasks. Another strategy might focus on the 
ontological concepts/relations in the module which would
provide a vocabulary to define tasks.    (08)

A cleaner alternative might be to recognize that task vocabularies and 
module concept vocabularies are orthogonal
and the meaning of these vocabularies is defined by the axioms that link 
them in an integrated task/module ontology.
This is more or less what's happening in highly axiomatized ontologies 
anyway:    (09)

- PSL (e.g., activity vs. activity occurence)
- DOLCE (e.g., situation vs. description)
- SNAP/SPAN (e.g., function vs. functioning)
- Barry's document ontologies (e.g., allegoric vs. autographic docs)    (010)

> But in addition to having some focused questions for Doug (and we must 
> get Doug’s agreement and cooperation on this, we don’t want to 
> surprise him in any unfair way), a we might have a follow on panel 
> with John, Barry, West and others who have well formed positions on 
> this and a selected group of related topics such as the role of upper 
> ontologies, lattices, standard vocabulary etc. (if we can constrain 
> this it might help get some consensus, however, we need to be as 
> inclusive as the topic requires).
> Thoughts?
There is a gap between what kind of balance is necessary in ONTAC 
between ontological wisdom vs. practical reason.
Ontologically speaking, we are wiser thanks to the formal ontologies & 
theoretical foundations behind the ontologies I mentioned above.
Practically speaking, it is a non-trivial excercise to translate this 
wisdom into practical methodologies, principles & tools to make progress
towards John's goals -- i.e., (a) and (b).    (011)

-- Nicolas.    (012)

> Regards,
> Gary Berg-Cross
> EM&I
> Crystal City VA
> 703-607-3329
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>    (013)

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