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RE: [ontac-forum] Result of vote: Type

To: "'ONTAC-WG General Discussion'" <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Cory Casanave" <cbc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 23:32:41 -0500
Message-id: <00f401c6209f$371db320$0200a8c0@cbcpc>
Congratulations on having your first term and concept.
I suggest that you use the occasion to make all ONTAC definition a web
resource and NOT just a document or human readable web page.  This should
have a well defined, managed and controlled URI guaranteed stable by ONTAC
as the authority of record. This can be defined in RDF and thus have axioms
referencing it in any language that can reference a URI.  This will then
allow various programs and URIs to make use of your asset - the definitive
identity for the concept "type" (small as it is, this will help it grow).
As a next step you can adopt a set of axioms referencing "type" in various
languages, it sounds like the capabilities of this group should be able to
prove them compatible.  We will then have the concept of type agreed and
represented without language arguments - any language can come as long as it
says a compatible thing.  One of those languages should also be OWL and the
statements in OWL should make the relations to the corresponding OWL
-Cory    (01)

-----Original Message-----
From: ontac-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:ontac-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Cassidy, Patrick J.
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 1:24 AM
To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion
Subject: [ontac-forum] Result of vote: Type     (02)

   Thanks to all those who participated in unexpectedly vigorous
discussion of this particular term.    (03)

 The final tally of preferences expressed by ONTACWG members is:
    "Type"   11
    "Class"  7
   one vote was also cast for "Type or Class" (synonyms) and one for
"Type and Class"    (04)

Therefore in the official FOL version of the COSMO, "Type" will be used
to refer to those intensionally-defined groupings called:    (05)

  Class in Ontolingua and Protege
  Class in RDF and OWL
  Class in SUMO
  Collection   in OpenCyc
  Universal    in DOLCE
  Property in Ontology Works' IODE system
 ---------------------------------------------------------    (06)

The usage of this term has now been incorporated into the merger
TopLevel2 indented list:
   http://colab.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?CosmoWG/TopLevel2    (07)

 . . . and in the OWL version of that starting hierarchy:    (08)

/TopLevel06.owl    (09)

-------    (010)

However, since "Class" is used in the same sense in several other
systems, I would strongly urge that we not use the terms "Class",
"subclass" and "Metaclass" in any sense in our formal FOL systems, and
reserve them for use in their usual senses in the OWL versions of COSMO
that we will want to create for interaction with the W3C community..  I
believe that using those terms in any sense other than their accepted
senses in OWL will create unnecessary confusion.    (011)

"Class" is also used in SUMO, and many of the elements of our COSMO are
likely to be taken from SUMO.  There will therefore be documentation
that will take a long time to change as those accustomed to "Class" try
to get used to "Type".  These two terms should be considered as
Synonyms, with "Type" being the preferred term in our terminology.  For
a similar reason, I would strongly urge that we not use the bare term
"Collection" for any element in our ontology, because that conflicts
with the Cyc usage, and OpenCyc components are also likely to form a
significant fraction of the COSMO, at least at the early stage.  For
the same reason, we should avoid using "Universal" in the COSMO so as
to avoid clashing with DOLCE usage.    (012)

==================     (013)

As this is the first official vote the COSMO-WG has taken, I would like
to express some thoughts on the process:    (014)

First, I would suggest that any residual comments on this issue be
directed to specific individuals in direct email.  The issue is settled
for the ONTACWG.    (015)

Some have expressed dismay that a mere terminological issue should take
up any of our time when the computers can handle any label for any
ontology element, as long as it is unique.  But it was also pointed out
that people will be developing, reading, and using these ontologies,
and having labels that help people understand, or at least do not
mislead, will be helpful to encourage use and minimize potential
errors.  Since there is no computational issue, but there is a
potential issue of acceptance by people, on this particular score,
taking a vote seems to be a reasonable way to make a choice.    (016)

One major purpose of the ONTACWG is to enable accurate and automatic
translation among different terminologies, and our own usage of
preferred terms is just another terminology out of many.  We are
developing the mechanisms to reduce or eliminate the significance of
terminological differences among different communities.  We are also a
community and cannot avoid being part of the problem, but we can
provide the solution, if we focus on the technical issues.    (017)

That said, I can anticipate that we will on occasion again find
differences of opinion on how to label particular ontology elements
(classes, relations, instances).  But unless some term has a
significant potential to mislead as to the intended meaning, I do hope
that after a very short discussion we can all just accept whatever
seems to be the dominant (or even the first) usage, with the attitude
of "anything reasonable".  If the discussion does not reach a
resolution quickly, we should encourage those interested to conduct a
discussion among themselves, off the list, and report their conclusion
to the list.  We should not often actually require a vote on
terminology questions.  The label for this central element (Type/Class)
of all ontologies should be one of the exceptions.    (018)

==================    (019)

The concern about our usage differing from others, especially W3C was
expressed by several, and articulated by Chris Menzel as below:    (020)

[CM, to ontac-dev 1-20-06]
>  It is not simply the fact that "class" is the term of choice in
>   the formal system OWL that we should use it; it is the fact that 
>  it is in OWL AND the fact that OWL and its kin are the
> primary W3C languages for publishing ontologies on the web.  We're
> swimming unnecessarily, indeed perversely, upstream if we choose
> otherwise.  Seems to me that the only thing that could justify the
> choice of "type" would some definite semantic incompatibility 
>  between the desired ONTAC notion and the W3C notion of class.  
>  But  there isn't.
>  So if we go with "type", we force EVERY user of OWL out 
>  there who wants to interact with an ONTAC-based ontology needlessly
>   to worry about
> translating every occurrence of "type" into "class".  Similarly for
> every user of any ONTAC-based ontology.  Isn't the point here to
> *enhance* interoperability?  Why throw up this completely 
>  unnecessary stumbling block, folks?    (021)

I do not believe that the difference of our chosen usage from W3C usage
will create serious problems of the kind anticipated by Chris because:    (022)

(1) our canonical representation will be in some variant of FOL or
higher (e.g. SKIF or some implementation of SCL or IKL), and
(2) we will need to have a translation between our canonical COSMO and
a less- expressive version in OWL; in the course of that translation,
every use of "Type" will be converted to "Class" and every usage of
"subtype" will be converted to "subclass", and vice-versa for the
inverse conversion (except perhaps in the documentation?)    (023)

The translation will be required in any case, and terminological
differences within the computational data will be handled within the
translation utility.  Since we anticipate maintaining an OWL version
anyway, "Class" must be included within our usage, but in that context.    (024)

If members of the  W3C express some disdain that their usage was not
adopted, it may be appropriate to point out that uniform terminological
usage within a community is important, and gives rise to multiple
controlled vocabularies, one for each community, but mappings of usage
among communities will only be possible when a standard of meaning such
as the COSMO is accepted by those communities that wish to communicate.
Assisting the work of the COSMO-WG will help minimize the significance
of  terminological differences.    (025)

Pat    (026)

Patrick Cassidy
MITRE Corporation
260 Industrial Way
Eatontown, NJ 07724
Mail Stop: MNJE
Phone: 732-578-6340
Cell: 908-565-4053
Fax: 732-578-6012
Email: pcassidy@xxxxxxxxx    (027)

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