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RE: [ontac-forum] Our prayers have been answered.

To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "West, Matthew R SIPC-DFD/321" <matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 4 Dec 2005 18:03:19 -0000
Message-id: <A94B3B171A49A4448F0CEEB458AA661F02A80DF2@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear John,    (01)

See below.    (02)

Regards    (03)

Matthew West
Reference Data Architecture and Standards Manager
Shell International Petroleum Company Limited
Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA, United Kingdom    (04)

Tel: +44 20 7934 4490 Mobile: +44 7796 336538
Email: matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx
>  > MW: It is commonplace for individual applications to have
>  > different ontologies (but hardly upper ontologies). For
>  > an organization to have and use an upper ontology as the basis
>  > for sewing them together is invaluable, and provides the basis
>  > for a common language for that business.
> Yes, but is the business-wide ontology really an upper ontology
> in the sense of Cyc or other major AI systems?  For example, they
> might have categories such as Employee and Customer with Person
> as a supertype, but database administrators rarely, if every,
> define Person as a member of the species Homo Sapiens, a mammal,
> vertebrate, etc.    (05)

MW: Mostly because few are interested in mammals etc.
> In fact, there are many databases for which the highest level
> types in the ontology are Number and CharacterString.  But
> somehow, they manage to muddle along for years and interact
> successfully with other databases that have a more realistic
> ontology (or none at all).  Things like this make me question
> the need for an upper level as a prerequisite for communication.    (06)

MW: The question is one of efficiency and effectiveness. The use
of a shared ontology for an organization reduces the cost of
developing interfaces, and means they tend to be more error prone.
Of course you can manage without, but why spend more than you need
> I realize that an upper level is important for reasoning, but
> even a totally unrealistic one with CharacterString as the
> topmost type can work for years -- it can even interoperate
> with other systems that do inferences or computations with
> totally different ontologies.    (07)

MW: Yes. I tell the story about early maps which would look hopeless
now, yet made a great improvement to the navigation of that age.
It doesn't mean that better maps aren't more useful though.    (08)

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