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[ontac-forum] Database integration (was Problems of ontology)

To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Peterson, Eric" <EPeterson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 20 May 2006 07:24:27 -0400
Message-id: <9BFFF3547B8B264891D4CF5C6E7125122E0BE3@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Thanks for you comments, John.    (01)

My comments are interspersed:    (02)

-----Original Message-----
From: ontac-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:ontac-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 12:56 PM
To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion
Subject: Re: [ontac-forum] Problems of ontology    (03)

Eric, Azamat, Matthew, Leo, Chuck, Cathy, and Pat,    (04)

<snip>    (05)

  EP> So when I talk about working toward a merged upper model,
   > I'm attempting to have a much simpler discussion than I
   > believe that you are.
   > I claim that an ontological model suitable for merging
   > databases needs no baroque axioms.    (06)

JS> That sounds as if you are asking for a vague upper level,
JS> somewhat along the lines of a cleaned-up version of WordNet.    (07)

That would be a start.  I'm not sure that I would use the term "vague"
however.  That sort of implies that human language in glosses and doc
strings cannot be written so as to be precise.  Does not a good gloss
entail the necessary and sufficient conditions of the concept that it
describes?    (08)

All I'm suggesting is that we first work toward the alignment of type
and relation hierarchies of real ontologies.  Then we will see much more
clearly how to best align the axioms.    (09)

  EP> My claim is that microtheories are not needed for a
   > database federating ontology.  At best microtheories are
   > arbitrary engineering conveniences.  At worst they get in
   > the way and bag up things that do not always belong together.    (010)

JS> Since most current databases do not have precisely defined
> definitions of what goes into the various slots in the tables,
> a vague upper level is probably sufficient.  But that means
> you cannot do long chains of inference, as many people want
> to do.  The detailed inferences can only be done with detailed
> axioms of the kind that typically occur in microtheories.    (011)

We can certainly map general things to other general things with
precision.  If a database item is unintentionally ambiguous, on the
other hand, we are left to try to map a precise interpretation of that
ambiguous item in a precise way - or to map all interpretations or some
useful subset of the interpretations.  But sloppy mapping is always the
enemy of lossless integration.    (012)

I claim that db integration requires something akin to a 5th normalized
data model.  Subsumsion lattices makes things easier and more useful.
The axiomatic precision you are talking about *will* be necessary for
integrating knowledge bases - but not for the current problems of real
data systems.    (013)

Best,    (014)

-Eric Peterson    (015)

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