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[ontac-forum] RE: Our Prayers were answered

To: <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Gary Berg-Cross" <gary.berg-cross@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 4 Dec 2005 13:14:47 -0500
Message-id: <330E3C69AFABAE45BD91B28F80BE32C90562D1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

I have inserted a few thoughts below on Mathew (MW) and John’s (JS) 

discussion of ontologies and “system interoperability.  The context

is the DRM whose goal is to support data interoperability.


 MW >>: ... Ontology is extremely immature as a subject and

 >> to coalesce now around a single ontology would stifle

 >> progress. I would see the ideal situation as there being

 >> a handful of major ontologies with competition between

 >> them. I think this is most likely to drive the improvement

 >> that I believe is necessary.    (010)


JS > I mostly agree.  But that raises the question of how a variety

>of systems based on incompatible ontologies can interoperate.

>I believe it is possible, because today we have many systems

>that work together successfully even though *none* of them are

>based on an explicit ontology.  Ideally, an ontology should

JS > not make it more difficult for systems to cooperate.    (011)


A relevant thrust that the Semantic Interoperability Community of Practice (SICoP)

has supported and that we might consider as context for some of this discussion is the

FEA’s DRM and its abstract model.  The DRM Abstract Model provides a “framework” for

harmonizing, implementing, interoperating, etc. a disparate range of 

"information models" that applications and enterprises have. 

The framework is discussed in the latest draft found at:



 A major aspect of the thrust is that it uses classification to support data interoperability.

 But that raises John’s ontological question at the taxonomy level - 

how can a variety of systems based on incompatible taxonomies (ontologies) interoperate?

The present DRM  approach does not provide guidance on how to generate common

classifications and so a simple hypothesis is that an agreed upon ontology

will solve this problem. 

All of this is probably well know history to the readers of this forum. 

I would just suggest that when agencies, departments etc. provide their taxonomies

in response to the DRM requirement, we will have quite a set of material to work with

to see if we can produce standard modules to support the type of interoperability

that the responding groups are talking about.


Gary Berg-Cross


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