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

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 09:58:00 -0500
Message-id: <438331F8.8000601@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Nicolas and Gary,    (01)

I very much like the idea of ontology design patterns
(ODP), but one point I would emphasize is that the
choice of design patterns that may be appropriate for
one application may be at the wrong level of granularity
or completely inefficient for talking about and reasoning
about another level.    (02)

For example, a macroscopic view of objects and processes
has a level of granularity that may obscure rather than
clarify the entities and their interactions in computer
chip design, microbiology, or atomic physics.    (03)

Another example is the choice of situation calculus,
which is the foundation for PSL (Process Specification
Language -- a widely used ontology for representing time
and processes), but the BPM (Business Process Modeling)
approach is based on the pi-calculus, which is an
orthogonal cut at representing the same kinds of
entities with a totally different set of axioms.    (04)

One of my criticisms of any ontology that has a fixed
upper level, such as DOLCE and many others (including
the one I presented in my KR book), is that there is only
*one* upper level.  The DOLCE design patterns have been
designed to propagate design decisions made for the DOLCE
upper level to every level of the ontology from top to
bottom.    (05)

That is a good idea *if* you want to support a single
upper level and to enforce its approach on everything
at every other level.  However, that would make it
impossible to relate different perspectives with
different design patterns for different levels of
granularity or different methods of reasoning.    (06)

For example, computer chip design requires a very different
level of granularity than the assembly process of connecting
parts inside a computer cabinet.  The microbiology of the
processes that take place inside the liver requires a
different granularity than the operation of transplanting
a liver.  But these different levels are interconnected,
and it's necessary to relate them.    (07)

In summary, I would say that design patterns are good,
but the ontologist's toolkit of patterns must have a
wide selection of patterns to accommodate different
levels of granularity for different applications.    (08)

Design patterns are highly compatible with modularity,
but you can't tie the patterns to a fixed upper level.    (09)

John Sowa    (010)

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