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Re: [ontac-forum] Semantics and Ontology and Semiotics

To: Chris Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Cc: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Adrian Walker <adrianw@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 28 May 2006 16:58:02 -0400
Message-id: <>
Hi Chris --    (01)

At 01:58 PM 5/28/2006 -0500, you wrote (in reply to a post criticizing RDF 
semantics)    (02)

>.... And thus your central confusion.  You think that a formal semantics for
>a formal language is somehow a complete characterization of the
>semantical purposes to which the language is put.  In fact, such a
>semantics is only a rigorous formal model of the general semantical
>properties of the given language.  It provides in particular a precise
>characterization of the manner in which the meanings of complex
>expressions are determined by the meanings of their syntactically
>simpler parts.  But such a formal semantics is in general almost
>completely silent on the natures of the entities which the language can
>be used to characterize.    (03)

I agree.  Let's try to take this one step further.    (04)

Someone pointed out at a meeting a while back the irony that "semantics" is 
one of the most ambiguous words that we use when talking about ontologies 
and the like.  (Perhaps the ambiguity is a plus for funding, but a minus 
for productive technical discussions?)    (05)

I have made a modest attempt to start clearing out the ambiguous underbrush 
by suggesting the terms:    (06)

    Semantics 1   Interleaving of metadata with data, e.g. as in RDF    (07)

    Semantics 2   what conclusions a reasoning engine *should* be able
                          to infer from any set of rules and facts    (08)

    Semantics 3   the meaning of English concepts at the author- and 
                          of a system.    (09)

There's more about this in [1,2].    (010)

 From a practitioner point of view, the three kinds of Semantics have to 
"play nicely"  together in one system, e.g. as in [3].    (011)

If one takes this admittedly unconventional point of view, it seems at 
least to help to keep the history of philosophy and AI in 
perspective.   One can then start to focus on more recent technical issues, 
such as how to be more ambitious about robust processing of natural 
language without falling off the "AI-complete" cliff.    (012)

What do you think?    (013)

                                    Cheers,  -- Adrian    (014)

[1]  http://www.semantic-conference.com/program/sessions/S2.html    (015)

http://www.reengineeringllc.com/A_Wiki_for_Business_Rules_in_Open_Vocabulary_Executable_English.pdf    (016)

[3]  Internet Business Logic  --  http://www.reengineeringllc.com    (017)

Internet Business Logic (R)
Executable open vocabulary English
Online at www.reengineeringllc.com
Shared use is free    (018)

Adrian Walker
PO Box 1412
CT 06011-1412 USA    (019)

Phone: USA 860 583 9677
Cell:    USA  860 830 2085
Fax:    USA  860 314 1029    (020)

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