Why a single unifiied ontology is impossible

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John F Sowa

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May 7, 2019, 11:54:31 AM5/7/19
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Twenty years ago, when I finished my book on knowledge
representation, I still had some lingering hopes for a unified
top-level ontology of everything. But those hopes were always
running into inconvenient facts.

This morning, I came across one more of those facts: the need
for collaboration among specialists with diverse backgrounds.
It came from an article about the evolution of flightless birds:

> “It’s exciting what can be done with a research team with diverse
> skill sets,” Edwards added. “Our group had developmental biologists,
> computational biologists, morphologists, statisticians, population
> geneticists — and, of course, ornithologists. Each brings a different
> perspective and the results, I think, are amazing.”

Implication: An ontology specialized for one purpose must be
supplemented with ontologies designed for other purposes.

For any particular application, unification is best performed
at the *problem level*, not at some abstract universal level.

This point explains why language-based resources, such as WordNet,
are more useful for relating multiple ontologies than any single
top-level ontology that privileges one choice over an infinity
of other options.

That doesn't prove that it's impossible to have a universal
ontology of ontologies. But it shows yet another obstacle
that none of the currently proposed TLOs have begun to address.

By the way, this is a lesson that Wittgenstein learned after
he spent a few years teaching children in an Austrian mountain
village: Children don't think or learn according to any TLO.
Children *and* adults think in terms of "language games".

Wittgenstein never rejected logic. What he rejected was the claim
of an ideal universal top-level ontology. I believe he was right.

See below for some excerpts and the URL of the article.

John
_______________________________________________________

The evolution of flightless birds

Since Darwin’s era, scientists have wondered how flightless birds like
emus, ostriches, kiwis, cassowaries, and others are related, and for
decades the assumption was that they must all share a common ancestor
who abandoned the skies for a more grounded life...

By the early 2000s, new research using genetic tools upended that story,
and instead pointed to the idea that flightlessness evolved many times
throughout history. Left unanswered, however, were questions about
whether evolution had pulled similar or different genetic levers in each
of those independent avian lineages...

Flightless birds all have similar body types, Sackton noted. “They have
reduced forelimbs [wings], to different degrees, and they all have this
loss of the ‘keel’ in their breastbone that anchors flight muscles,” he
said. “What that amounts to is a suite of convergent morphological
changes that led to this similar body plan across all these species.”

“What’s interesting about the morphological changes … is they have to
preserve their hind limbs,” he said. “There are lots of ways to stop a
limb from forming, but shrinking a forelimb without changing the hind
limb is more difficult.”

“One of the things that was exciting about this project for me
personally was how we were able to bring the computational expertise in
the Informatics Group to bear on this really important question in
evolutionary biology,” said Sackton. “This joining of computational,
statistical genetics with the natural history perspectives is important
for getting the full picture of how these birds evolved.”

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/05/harvard-study-explores-genetics-behind-evolution-of-flightless-birds/

Jon Awbrey

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May 7, 2019, 1:36:14 PM5/7/19
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John, All ???

My first year at college the university was holding a cross-campus colloquium
taking its theme from C.P. Snow's Two Cultures all about the need for and the
difficulties of cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration in our day.
The university had recently created three residential colleges focused on the
arts, sciences, and government/history but designed to provide future citizens
with an integrated perspective on how these concentrations fit into the bigger
picture of the modern world.

Long time passing, I found myself returning to these issues around the turn of the
millennium, addressing the ???problem of silos??? and the ???scholarship of integration???
from the perspective of Peirce's and Dewey's pragmatism and semiotics. Here's the
papers Susan A. and I wrote about that:

Conference version:
http://www.iupui.edu/~arisbe/menu/library/aboutcsp/awbrey/integrat.htm

Published version:
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1350508401082013

I don't know if the brands of ontologies being cranked out today are going to be
the ultimate answer to these problems, but I do think there are applications of
logic, math modeling, and pragmatic semiotics that would certainly help a lot.

Regards,

Jon

On 5/7/2019 11:54 AM, John F Sowa wrote:
> Twenty years ago, when I finished my book on knowledge
> representation, I still had some lingering hopes for a unified
> top-level ontology of everything.?? But those hopes were always
> running into inconvenient facts.
>
> This morning, I came across one more of those facts:?? the need
> for collaboration among specialists with diverse backgrounds.
> It came from an article about the evolution of flightless birds:
>
>> ???It???s exciting what can be done with a research team with diverse
>> skill sets,??? Edwards added. ???Our group had developmental biologists,
>> computational biologists, morphologists, statisticians, population
>> geneticists ??? and, of course, ornithologists. Each brings a different
>> perspective and the results, I think, are amazing.???
>
> Implication:?? An ontology specialized for one purpose must be
> supplemented with ontologies designed for other purposes.
>
> For any particular application, unification is best performed
> at the *problem level*, not at some abstract universal level.
>
> This point explains why language-based resources, such as WordNet,
> are more useful for relating multiple ontologies than any single
> top-level ontology that privileges one choice over an infinity
> of other options.
>
> That doesn't prove that it's impossible to have a universal
> ontology of ontologies.?? But it shows yet another obstacle
> that none of the currently proposed TLOs have begun to address.
>
> By the way, this is a lesson that Wittgenstein learned after
> he spent a few years teaching children in an Austrian mountain
> village:?? Children don't think or learn according to any TLO.
> Children *and* adults think in terms of "language games".
>
> Wittgenstein never rejected logic.?? What he rejected was the claim
> of an ideal universal top-level ontology.?? I believe he was right.
>
> See below for some excerpts and the URL of the article.
>
> John
> _______________________________________________________
>
> The evolution of flightless birds
>
> Since Darwin???s era, scientists have wondered how flightless birds like emus, ostriches, kiwis, cassowaries, and others
> are related, and for decades the assumption was that they must all share a common ancestor who abandoned the skies for a
> more grounded life...
>
> By the early 2000s, new research using genetic tools upended that story, and instead pointed to the idea that
> flightlessness evolved many times throughout history. Left unanswered, however, were questions about whether evolution
> had pulled similar or different genetic levers in each of those independent avian lineages...
>
> Flightless birds all have similar body types, Sackton noted. ???They have reduced forelimbs [wings], to different degrees,
> and they all have this loss of the ???keel??? in their breastbone that anchors flight muscles,??? he said. ???What that amounts
> to is a suite of convergent morphological changes that led to this similar body plan across all these species.???
>
> ???What???s interesting about the morphological changes ??? is they have to preserve their hind limbs,??? he said. ???There are
> lots of ways to stop a limb from forming, but shrinking a forelimb without changing the hind limb is more difficult.???
>
> ???One of the things that was exciting about this project for me personally was how we were able to bring the
> computational expertise in the Informatics Group to bear on this really important question in evolutionary biology,???
> said Sackton. ???This joining of computational, statistical genetics with the natural history perspectives is important
> for getting the full picture of how these birds evolved.???
>
> https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/05/harvard-study-explores-genetics-behind-evolution-of-flightless-birds/
>

Richard H. McCullough

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May 7, 2019, 1:49:38 PM5/7/19
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John, you said

... language-based resources, such as WordNet,

are more useful for relating multiple ontologies than any single
top-level ontology that privileges one choice over an infinity
of other options.

I think the synset definitions are an important contributor
to the success of WordNet. These definitions describe the
use of a word in different contexts, and thus define 
the concept hierarchy lattice of the ontology.
Without synset definitions, the ontology can be a
very ambiguous structure.
 
What is your context?


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bruces...@cox.net

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May 7, 2019, 2:39:42 PM5/7/19
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Re the Summit meeting just concluded -- just very excellent, brilliant. As these expert voices got warmed up and into the flow, it got very exciting. The skill level and quick familiarity with these subjects by the panelists was very impressive. Thank you!

I found myself trying to synthesize connections between some of the big themes that emerged -- relative to my own general model of cognitive structure -- for example, how an ontology of concepts might connect to and work collaboratively with an ontology of graphics -- both guided by probabilities and "typicality", perhaps in a converging way tending towards "understanding" or "explanation". These elements in combination seem to be a primary ingredient list for a comprehensive model of cognition.

I was wondering -- how to understand the marriage of perception ("graphics") and conceptual or verbal/word-based interpretation in some integrated model? That almost seems like a thumbnail model of science. I thought of the "trellis" concept suggested by Amit Sheth -- an approximately stable general form -- that takes an increasingly specific form as it becomes populated by specific data.

Is that on the right track?

If it is -- maybe (??) this idea does indeed tend toward this tenuous notion of universal ontology -- of a *useful* universal ontology....

Bruce Schuman
Santa Barbara CA USA, 805-705-9174
Weavingunity.net

Azamat Abdoullaev

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May 7, 2019, 2:56:27 PM5/7/19
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"I was wondering -- how to understand the marriage of perception ("graphics") and  conceptual or verbal/word-based interpretation in some integrated model"?  
Through cognitive science, theoretical AI, data science and engineering, all within a general <data-mind-world> ontology framework. 

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Stingley, Patrick

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May 7, 2019, 2:58:09 PM5/7/19
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I disagree that a single unified ontology is impossible.  In fact, I believe it is inevitable.
It is not impossible because SUMO exists.   Maybe someone can correct me if this doesn't count as a satisfactory example disproving the thesis.

It is inevitable for the following reason.  As we learn from suffering with Protege, all of the members of our ontologies derive from the "Thing" object.
In Set Theory, the only thing all sets have in common is the Null Set and nothing can be derived from the Null Set.
Since everything in our ontologies derives from the Thing object, they must all have this in common, which means that they are not disjoint, but in fact are all part of a superset ontology.

v.r.,

Patrick Stingley


bruces...@cox.net

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May 7, 2019, 5:01:27 PM5/7/19
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Apologies for this too-long email.

 

*************************

 

This is a huge and very complicated subject -- but I think there are some big-picture simple things that can be said about it.

 

I got interested in "categories and concepts" many years ago, initially from a holistic and graphical point of view.  I got into the study of "mystical symbols" when I first went back to the university, and what emerged for me was the idea that many such symbols can properly be understood as a kind of "pre-mathematical intuition” into profound ontological subjects.  Clear examples might include the cross, mandala, and yin/yang, and probably some others like axis mundi.   I like this model of “mandala” – taken from the “wheel of the dharma” on the national flag of India.   http://originresearch.com/interval/index.cfm

 

Human beings have not yet advanced to the point of collective evolution where the commonly repeated symbols that arise in deep intuition are well-understood.  They are seen as art, as fantasy, as emotional or simply as incomprehensible, as "mystery".  Scholars like Joseph Campbell and psychologists like Jung have looked carefully at this topic, but perhaps not from the point of view of scientific interpretation.  But maybe Ramon Lull was moving in this direction.

 

John, you said the other day in a previous thread that your experience with people trying to connect "data" and "information" with "wisdom" was that their ideas generally tended towards "mush".  I know what you mean; I often feel something similar -- because it seems to me that the enterprise of human civilization has not (yet) established a clear and non-controversial understanding of holistic or graphical thinking.  So the common thinking is muddy.  This entire domain of analysis itself might be thought of as mush.  It's uncharted, pre-scientific, unmapped, still blurry and very experimental.  It's the mysterious domain of "religion".  Skeptics shake their head and walk away.

 

This is the connection between analysis and intuition, between empiricism and holism – and how that connection is experienced in a normal human mind.  At the linear/empirical/scientific end of the spectrum, things are pretty clear.  We understand measurement.  But what is at the absolute top of this descending cascade?  This is the  domain of “the absolute container” – where everybody and everything get confused….

 

*

 

As I started thinking about this comment, in the afterglow of the very interesting ontology summit just concluded, with its reference to an array of special-case ontologies -- both graphical and verbal -- perhaps seen in the light of Michael Gruninger's comment (if I understood it right) that we do indeed need broader/more inclusive ontologies -- that there might be a huge missing area in the study of intuition.

 

What about an ontology of symbols?  Pull together 500 or 1000 primary and common symbols from various traditions around the world -- and work on interpreting their meaning.  Nils Bohr had the "yin/yang' symbol on his personal coat of arms.  What does it mean?  What are its ontological implications?  It's clearly a mathematical form.

 

Years ago at Berkeley, I bought an engineering book on the "Smith Chart" -- which was about radio antenna design -- because its large-page format presented multiple alternative versions and interpretations of the yin/yang diagram -- a circle with a large letter S dividing it into two sections – which turned out to have major implications for the behaviour of radio waves.

 

This kind of symbolism has arisen in in some form in every culture that has been studied.  So, I think the explanation is -- people are struggling to understand their own deepest intuitions.  These symbols are like mathematical hypothesis based on "best guess" approaches.  "I don't know for sure what it means, but this is what I get".

 

*

 

Today, many years later, I am still following my guiding holistic intuition.  I am continuing to take notes and gather elements on what looks to me like a potent universal container for all possibilities of semantic ontology.  It's profoundly "mystical" -- and relates to common mystical symbols like "Uroboros" (snake swallowing its tail) -- but it also seems to directly plug in to the concept of "measurement" in its most basic and unquestionable level.

 

If this framework is making sense, and moving in the right direction -- it might be an exacting map connecting quantitative and qualitative variables -- showing how they can be mapped across a well-defined spectrum of levels.

 

My guiding intuition is -- all language emerges as labels for distinctions within the continuum -- and those distinctions can be defined at any level of abstraction.  Because we have not (yet) accurately and reliably mapped the higher levels of intuition, and do not as yet have the conceptual apparatus to do so, we find ourselves wandering in a mush of confused ideas. 

 

***

 

So maybe the issue is "what is meant by the concept of a unified ontology?"  I personally am not interested in building a huge dictionary.  I want to understand the derivation of words and their meaning.  I think it is a universal process, and that all meaning can be understood in approximately the same way  -- ie, as a dimensional decomposition descending across levels of analysis – where those levels of analysis are clearly defined as the framework for a universal ontology.

 

In this context -- special case structures don't really matter. They are no longer logically independent objects -- as I think you are saying they are -- but rather as special-case instances a universal/general form that contains them all and from which they are all derived by a highly coherent and rational process. 

 

My guess is -- we are going to see how this works. This does not imply that all independently evolved domains are going to plug into one another immediately.  But their common derivation will provide a powerful source of insight.  My guess is, we will find ways to meet at the edges, and evolve common ways to interact that span the borders.

 

Bruce Schuman

Santa Barbara CA USA, 805-705-9174

Weavingunity.net

 

-----Original Message-----

From: ontolo...@googlegroups.com <ontolo...@googlegroups.com> On Behalf Of John F Sowa

Sent: Tuesday, May 7, 2019 8:54 AM

To: ontolog-forum <ontolo...@googlegroups.com>

Cc: ontolog...@googlegroups.com

Subject: [ontolog-forum] Why a single unifiied ontology is impossible

 

Twenty years ago, when I finished my book on knowledge representation, I still had some lingering hopes for a unified top-level ontology of everything.  But those hopes were always running into inconvenient facts.

Bruce Schuman

bruces...@cox.net

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May 7, 2019, 5:36:22 PM5/7/19
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I agree with this, Patrick, thank you.

 

I like this notion of “null” as the common point or space.  I’ve been thinking the same thing.

 

And I think it is short-sighted to presuppose that

 

“any single top-level ontology [must necessarily] privilege one choice over an infinity of other options”

 

I think the top level should itself implicitly contain “an infinity of options” – and that this make perfect sense when we understand that “every particular parsing of the space” is a special case instance.  We are not trying to make a rigid list of word meanings – we’re trying to make language absolutely and infinitely fluent – and derived from a common source.

 

If we don’t have the time or situation to drive all ambiguity and uncertainty out of a shared abstract concept by dialog – I’d guess that the statistical methods discussed during the Ontolog Summit today point very strongly towards ways to make excellent guesses.  Those guys are awesome.  This stuff is do-able.

 

Since everything in our ontologies derives from the Thing object, they must all have this in common, which means that they are not disjoint, but in fact are all part of a superset ontology.”

 

Yes, exactly.  I want to hammer on this point until we see it very clearly – until we see how all symbolic and algebraic representation can be derived from this common starting point by a fully coherent process.

 

This kind of method can explain to any degree of detail the huge range of human diversity in all its dimensionality – while fully holding it together around its common source

 

http://originresearch.com/interval/index.cfm

 

 

 

Bruce Schuman

Santa Barbara CA USA, 805-705-9174

Weavingunity.net

 

From: 'Stingley, Patrick' via ontolog-forum <ontolo...@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, May 7, 2019 11:58 AM
To: ontolo...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [EXTERNAL] Re: [ontolog-forum] Why a single unifiied ontology is impossible

 

I disagree that a single unified ontology is impossible.  In fact, I believe it is inevitable.

It is not impossible because SUMO exists.   Maybe someone can correct me if this doesn't count as a satisfactory example disproving the thesis.

 

It is inevitable for the following reason.  As we learn from suffering with Protege, all of the members of our ontologies derive from the "Thing" object.

In Set Theory, the only thing all sets have in common is the Null Set and nothing can be derived from the Null Set.

Since everything in our ontologies derives from the Thing object, they must all have this in common, which means that they are not disjoint, but in fact are all part of a superset ontology.

 

v.r.,

 

Patrick Stingley

 

 

On Tue, May 7, 2019 at 1:49 PM Richard H. McCullough <rhmccu...@gmail.com> wrote:

John, you said


... language-based resources, such as WordNet,


are more useful for relating multiple ontologies than any single
top-level ontology that privileges one choice over an infinity
of other options.

 

I think the synset definitions are an important contributor

to the success of WordNet. These definitions describe the

use of a word in different contexts, and thus define 

the concept hierarchy lattice of the ontology.

Without synset definitions, the ontology can be a

very ambiguous structure.

 

What is your context?

 

On Tue, May 7, 2019 at 8:54 AM John F Sowa <so...@bestweb.net> wrote:


For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

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Nadin, Mihai

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May 7, 2019, 6:15:19 PM5/7/19
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Dear and respected colleagues,

Ontology answers the question: What is…? as it applies to everything there is, which is actually in perpetual change. Telling machines what things are is the engineering aspect of ontology engineering. A single unified ontology, which would make the life of engineers so much easier, would presume  that we can describe, in whichever manner (words, images, sounds, combinations of all kinds of representations), all there is in its continuous change. While the physical—the subset of all there is that is not alive—might be, within a certain framework, fully and consistently described, the living –by far the larger subset of all there is—is undecidable.

These considerations alone should make us aware that a single unified ontology is for reasons related to our relation to reality not possible. For the same reason a single unified ontology of medicine is a goal defying the nature of the entity it would fully describe if it could.

 

AI as practiced currently being nothing but ontology made operational, to talk about AI in any creative endeavor (medicine is such an endeavor) is nonsense.

Automating tasks we associate with intelligence (even so we do not understand yet what intelligence is) is not the same with making available a machine that “produces intelligence”waiting to be deployed.

 

Best wishes.

 

Mihai Nadin

doug foxvog

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May 7, 2019, 11:25:37 PM5/7/19
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This discussion has diverged from John's concern for "a unified top-level
ontology of everything" to whether a "single unified ontology" is possible
or inevitable. If the top level ontology includes definitions of
"everything", then it would seem not to be possible. If, on the other
hand, it only defines what is necessary to define anything that a
specialized ontology includes, it seems quite possible.

A "top-level" ontology that could cover "everything" would describe a
limited number of types of things. It would describe individuals, types
of individuals, types of types of individuals, predicates, functions,
representations of time and space, ways of representing and inter-relating
4D and 3+1 D objects, tangible vs. intangible things, temporally rigid vs.
variable types and properties, quantities and units of measure,
information structures, how to temporally qualify statements, how to
define subcontexts, how to inter-related contexts, and how to use any of
these sorts of things as arguments to predicates.

It may be useful for the concepts of purposeful agent, artifact, and a few
of its most general sub-types (conceptual work, physical artifact) in the
top level ontology as well.

Note that such a top-level ontology would not decree whether the world is
4D or 3D -- it would provide vocabulary for describing both and allow
lower level ontologies to choose that for themselves.

Such a top-level ontology would not include living things, astronomical
objects, artifacts, chemical elements, agreements, money, biological
species, etc. These would be left for lower level ontologies.

High, but lower level, ontologies would be defined as contexts under the
top level ontology.

John's concern about combining different ontologies ends up being able to
use multiple sub-contexts of the top-level ontology (i.e., lower level
ontologies):

>> "It's exciting what can be done with a research team with diverse
>> skill sets," Edwards added. "Our group had developmental biologists,
>> computational biologists, morphologists, statisticians, population
>> geneticists -- and, of course, ornithologists. Each brings a different
>> perspective and the results, I think, are amazing."

> Implication: An ontology specialized for one purpose must be
> supplemented with ontologies designed for other purposes.

> For any particular application, unification is best performed
> at the *problem level*, not at some abstract universal level.

This does not suggest that one can not have a "a unified top-level
ontology of everything" -- just that most terms need to be defined below
that top level.

Multiple ontologies may be unified if they are based in the same way on
the same top-level ontology. Developmental biologists, computational
biologists, morphologists, statisticians, population geneticists, and
ornithologists all would have their own mid-level ontologies. By
performing problem-level analysis in a context that inherits multiple
ontologies from multiple fields, the big win of combining these skill sets
becomes available. Some questions may not need to inherit all of these
ontologies -- just the ones whose synergy allows novel solutions.

-- doug foxvog

On Tue, May 7, 2019 18:15, Nadin, Mihai wrote:
> Dear and respected colleagues,
> Ontology answers the question: What is? as it applies to everything
> options" -- and that this make perfect sense when we understand that
>> geneticists -- and, of course, ornithologists. Each brings a different

doug foxvog

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May 8, 2019, 12:06:27 AM5/8/19
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Synsets are a very valuable contributor to WordNet. They are linked not
only by sub-class hierarchies, but by other relations as well. They
certainly point out that words are poor choices as ontological terms as
the same word is used in multiple synsets. One could use WordNet synsets
as a first pass for terms in an ontology. But if you look closely, you
will discover that multiple words in the same synset often have different
meanings -- some may be more or less specific than others and others could
be represented by Venn Diagram circles that greatly overlap others, but
include instances that others don't and exclude instances that others
include.

But an ontology is far more than just a hierarchy of subclasses. It needs
to include predicates with fixed meanings and properties that allow
statements to be made about terms in the ontology.

An ontology may certainly provide mappings between words and phrases and
terms in the ontology -- with multiple denotations of the same word and
multiple ways of denoting the same term in the ontology.

-- doug foxvog
> https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/ontolog-forum/CAGCbhFm7WHj-k4ALZiXPVi0JqbgWtKRsks7xEFYug37fxHVPJw%40mail.gmail.com.

Paola Di Maio

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May 8, 2019, 3:53:44 AM5/8/19
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Bruce Patrick John Richard and all

I envisage the possibility of a unified ontology (without actually being able to figure out what it would look like yet) alongside the consolidation of the General Unified Theory.
Somewhat the two go together for me.  I expect objections

PDM




Godfrey Rust

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May 8, 2019, 4:00:59 AM5/8/19
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Paola

 

I share your instinct, but for me its rather like having two conflicting postmodern views of truth: one says that there is no absolute truth, only relative; the other says that there is an absolute truth, but we are trapped in limited contexts and can never know what it is because unlike a GUT it would not be verifiable. Either way the practical outcome is the same.

 

Godfrey

Azamat Abdoullaev

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May 8, 2019, 10:10:29 AM5/8/19
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"Nils Bohr had the "yin/yang' symbol on his personal coat of arms.  What does it mean?  What are its ontological implications?  It's clearly a mathematical form".

That's another good mind-provocative question from Bruce.
Let me start from Boolean algebra, fundamental in the digital electronics and in all modern programming languages and in set theory and statistics and ML&DL.
 In Boolean algebra, the values of the variables are the truth values true and false, usually denoted 1 and 0 respectively, while in elementary algebra the values of the variables are numbers, real or natural, with the prime operations as addition and multiplication. The main operations of Boolean algebra are the conjunction and denoted as ∧, the disjunction or denoted as ∨, and the negation not denoted as ¬. It makes a formalism to describe logical relations like as elementary algebra describes numeric relations.
In Pythagorean philosophy, there is a set of 10 pairs of contrary qualities, a table of opposites, as the first principles of things, which i modernized a bit:
Everything  Nothing
Good/Yang  Evil/Yin
Unity Plurality
Necessity Contingency
Light  Darkness
Male  Female
Even Odd
Positive Negative
True False
1     0
Most natural dualities, if not all (light and dark, fire and water, etc.) are interpreted as physical manifestations of the duality of yin and yang, making an indivisible whole.
Yin and Yang dualism reconcile contrary forces as complementary, interconnected, interdependent, or interrelated in the natural world, coming out of a primary chaos of material energy Qi
They put the duality of Yin as the receptive and Yang as the active principle everywhere, in all forms of change and being, from the annual cycle (winter and summer), the landscape (north-facing shade and south-facing brightness), sexual coupling (female and male), the formation of both men and women as characters, to sociopolitical history (disorder and order).
Still the best technological application of the Yin and Yang dualism is the Boolean logic for computing technologies.


John F Sowa

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May 8, 2019, 11:18:54 AM5/8/19
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Jon, Azamat, Patrick, Bruce, Nadin, Doug F, Paola, Godfrey, Ian, Eric,

Jon
> All ???

I don't understand what you're criticizing. Nothing you wrote
contradicts anything I wrote.

Jon
> I do think there are applications of logic, math modeling,
> and pragmatic semiotics that would certainly help a lot.

I certainly agree with that point. I've been saying that in
my 1984 book, my 2000 book, and the papers and lectures I've
been writing and presenting over the years.

Azamat
> "Why a single unified ontology is possible" has strong evidence
> from hard sciences, as fundamental physics. It is about the
> general theory of everything (gTOE)...

What physicists call a theory of everything is just a theory of
physics. If we had such a theory, it would explain many aspects
of physics. But that won't solve any hard problems of ontology.

Just look at quantum electrodynamics (QED), which is the most
general theory that is available today. But the mathematics
associated with QED is so complex, that nobody uses QED if they
can solve their problems with the old QM of 1926. And nobody
uses QM or relativity if they can solve their problems with good
old-fashioned Newtonian mechanics.

Conclusion: Pure physics has a goal of discovering the fundamental
principles of the universe. But every new discovery opens up more
questions than it answers.

Net result: Applied physics is a hodge-podge of thousands of
special-purpose approximations for every imaginable special case.
If some fairy godmother would magically give the world a grand TOE
tomorrow, it would have no effect on those applications.

Patrick
> I disagree that a single unified ontology is impossible.
> In fact, I believe it is inevitable. It is not impossible
> because SUMO exists.

SUMO is fine for your applications. But suppose you're working
on a project that has to communicate with other systems that
use Cyc, DOLCE, BFO, ISO 15936, or no ontology at all. How
can all the components communicate if they're using different
ontologies?

Patrick
> Since everything in our ontologies derives from the Thing
> object, they must all have this in common, which means that
> they are not disjoint, but in fact are all part of a superset
> ontology.

Yes. But there is only one axiom for the top, and it's
irrelevant whether you call it Thing, Entity, or whatever.
That top axiom provides no information at all. In effect,
it says, "For all x, if x exists, then x is a Thing."

Good luck in using that axiom to integrate the data coming
from all those independently developed sources.

Bruce,

> I think the top level should itself implicitly contain
> “an infinity of options” – and that this make perfect sense
> when we understand that “every particular parsing of the space”
> is a special case instance.

OK. So how are you going to integrate the data coming from
systems that use that "infinity of options" and make them
work together (interoperate) without getting mired down in
contradictions?

Bruce
> We are not trying to make a rigid list of word meanings –
> we’re trying to make language absolutely and infinitely fluent
> – and derived from a common source.

You have such a language. It's called English. Other people
speak thousands of other languages. Formal ontologies specified
in formal logics were designed to enable those systems to work
together. But what if they're using different definitions for
the same words?

Nadin
> A single unified ontology, which would make the life of engineers
> so much easier...

That is certainly true. And philosophers, linguists, computer
scientists, engineers... have been trying to define such a thing
for centuries. The database people have been trying to develop
such standards since the 1970s. The DB, AI, and programming
language people got together to unify all those approaches in
1980. The AI people tried again in 1991 and they collaborated
with the DB people. The best thing they got was Common Logic (CL)
which was inspired by SWeLL (Semantic Web Logic Language) by
Tim Berners-Lee. But the description logic gang derailed that
foundation and foisted OWL upon us.

In 1998, the year before I finished my KR book, Klaus Tschira
hosted a grand ontology gathering in Heidelberg. There were
people drom WordNet, Cyc, and participants from in all the above
projects. But we broke up without any consensus. Klaus T. vowed
that he would never again host another ontology gathering.

Nobody has ever proposed an ontology that was so good that
anyone with a rival ontology would accept it. For a survey
with URLs for the sources, see http://jfsowa.com/ikl/ .

Doug
> John's concern about combining different ontologies ends up being
> able to use multiple sub-contexts of the top-level ontology (i.e.,
> lower level ontologies)

Yes. That's closer to what I was saying, and it's very similar
to the Cyc strategy. But it is still a TLO. And as we have
found, nobody with a TLO that is their pride and joy will accept
anybody else's pride and joy.

Doug
> Synsets are a very valuable contributor to WordNet. They are linked
> not only by sub-class hierarchies, but by other relations as well.
> They certainly point out that words are poor choices as ontological
> terms as the same word is used in multiple synsets.

I agree. But note that a synset is *less than* a definition.
It is closer to the lowest common denominator of all the words in
that collection.

Doug
> But an ontology is far more than just a hierarchy of subclasses.
> It needs to include predicates with fixed meanings and properties
> that allow statements to be made about terms in the ontology.

Yes. And two ontologies that have conflicting features for
terms that are aligned to the same synset can share data if and
only if the conflicting features are not relevant to the application.

For example, the WordNet synsets for times and dates say nothing
about a 4D ontology or a 3+1 D ontology. Therefore, times and
dates can be shared among ontologies that make different choices.

Paola and Godfrey
> I share [Paola's] instinct, but for me its rather like having
> two conflicting postmodern views of truth: one says that there
> is no absolute truth, only relative; the other says that there
> is an absolute truth, but we are trapped in limited contexts

I take the second option: there is an absolute truth, but we
won't know it until every possible scientific question of any kind
has been asked and answered. That is a very close approximation
to never.

On the other hand, we have been getting better approximations
over the years. Collaboration among them is possible, but any
attempt to force a unification would block further research.

Ian
> Great to see that stated ... as a lesson from Wittgenstein,
> a lesson that few (ie zero) logical positivists got.

Yes. Wittgenstein met with some of the Vienna Circlers.
Rudolf Carnap thought that LW was on his side (from his way
of reading the Tractatus). But LW totally rejected everything
that Carnap said or did. Carnap was trying to get funding for
his vision of "unified science". But fortunately, his lack of
funding saved the world from a hopelessly misguided project.
See http://jfsowa.com/pubs/signproc.pdf

Eric
> The most elaborated "Ontologies" are Mathematical Axiomatics !
> All mathematical objects are defined with axioms.

I certainly agree. And mathematics is the most glaring omission
from nearly all the proposed TLOs. Without mathematics, you can't
have science, engineering, finance, business... You can't design
a house, drive a car, talk on the phone, or count anything.

Azamat
> "Niels Bohr had the "yin/yang' symbol on his personal coat of arms.
> What does it mean? What are its ontological implications? It's
> clearly a mathematical form".

Niels B. used that as a symbol for complementarity -- the undivided
unity of two opposites. In his case, that meant that both the
wave theory and the particle theory of light, although contradictory,
are both true. It also covers the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
and other aspects of the many puzzles about quantum mechanics.

For more, google "Niels Bohr yin yang".

In fact, that's a good theme to end on. It shows that a unified
ontology that has fixed, precise, formal definitions is incompatible
with the fundamental principles of physics.

The alternative: A supra level based on an ontology of ontologies.
And with mathematics as the "Queen of the Sciences".

John

Jon Awbrey

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May 8, 2019, 11:55:10 AM5/8/19
to Ontolog Forum, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Resending my last. Those triple question marks were supposed to be
dashes and quotation marks. I checked and found my T-bird sent the
right unicodes but somehow the comedy of errors appropriately named
Yahoo! was losing them in transit. Looks like it was a transient,
at least as of a minute ago, so let's hope this works this time.

Re: John Sowa
At: https://groups.google.com/d/topic/ontolog-forum/xRa-_vxwdp4/overview

John, All —

My first year at college the university was holding a cross-campus colloquium
taking its theme from C.P. Snow's Two Cultures all about the need for and the
difficulties of cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration in our day.
The university had recently created three residential colleges focused on the
arts, sciences, and government/history but designed to provide future citizens
with an integrated perspective on how these concentrations fit into the bigger
picture of the modern world.

Long time passing, I found myself returning to these issues around the turn of the
millennium, addressing the “problem of silos“ and the “scholarship of integration”
from the perspective of Peirce's and Dewey's pragmatism and semiotics. Here's the
papers Susan A. and I wrote about that:

Conference version:
http://www.iupui.edu/~arisbe/menu/library/aboutcsp/awbrey/integrat.htm

Published version:
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1350508401082013

I don't know if the brands of ontologies being cranked out today are going to be
the ultimate answer to these problems, but I do think there are applications of
logic, math modeling, and pragmatic semiotics that would certainly help a lot.

Regards,

Jon

inquiry into inquiry: https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/
academia: https://independent.academia.edu/JonAwbrey
oeiswiki: https://www.oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey
isw: http://intersci.ss.uci.edu/wiki/index.php/JLA
facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JonnyCache

bruces...@cox.net

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May 8, 2019, 12:25:26 PM5/8/19
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Just quickly

JS
> What physicists call a theory of everything is just a theory of physics.
> If we had such a theory, it would explain many aspects of physics.
> But that won't solve any hard problems of ontology.

With respect -- and in a spirit of dialog and inquiry -- from my point of view you might be ignoring the underlying semantic substrate. That's why I asked the other day whether physics is defined in concepts. If it is -- then "concepts" form the structure and "medium" through which physicists view and interpret the world. Their mathematics is a sea of interconnected concepts.

As I understand it, a physical theory is defined in concepts. A mathematical model is a concept. It's symbol, their manipulation, their equations, the foundational definitions that support the mathematics in those equations -- are concepts. Just this morning on the very interesting "curiosity stream" web site where there are many fascinating programs on physics, the speaker mentioned the famous equation "E=mc(squared)". That is a highly compositional structure -- what is energy, what is mass, what is speed -- that equation is an exercise in "compositional semantics". I am not challenging that equation. But is a highly derivative concept -- and very simple compared to many modern physical theories -- like the one I was looking at this morning, on "dark energy".

> Just look at quantum electrodynamics (QED), which is the most general theory
> that is available today. But the mathematics associated with QED is so complex,
> that nobody uses QED if they can solve their problems with the old QM of 1926.
> And nobody uses QM or relativity if they can solve their problems with good
> old-fashioned Newtonian mechanics.

You said it better than I could. But that's my point.

JS
> Conclusion: Pure physics has a goal of discovering the fundamental principles
> of the universe. But every new discovery opens up more questions than it answers.

Yes. Could it be that this "quantum entanglement" is to at least some degree an artifact of assumptions and operating principles inherent in the conceptual substrate -- the blackboard on which these theories are written?

JS
> Net result: Applied physics is a hodge-podge of thousands of special-purpose
> approximations for every imaginable special case.
> If some fairy godmother would magically give the world a grand TOE tomorrow,
> it would have no effect on those applications.

Yes, ok, let's say that is true. And we might advance the general cause of semantics and human understanding if we could see clearly how and why this structure has become a "hodge-podge of special-purpose approximations." (read "fragmented") . Can that confusion be tracked to its lair? Epistemologists should nail down this issue. Why does this happen?

But what I want to talk about is -- "a grand TOC" -- a Grand Theory of Concepts that defines the medium and substrate and inherent conceptual principles on which or underlying which all physics is defined ("what is our common blackboard?")

And I don’t mean to be doubting physics -- or its methods of correlation with empirical measurement. What I am trying to eliminate is inherent/implicit ambiguity in conceptual form, that is introduced by unconscious assumptions embedded in fundamental and perhaps "axiomatic" principles and methods.

Bruce,
> I think the top level should itself implicitly contain “an infinity of
> options” – and that this make perfect sense when we understand that
> “every particular parsing of the space”
> is a special case instance.

JS
> OK. So how are you going to integrate the data coming from systems
> that use that "infinity of options" and make them work together
> (interoperate) without getting mired down in contradictions?

That's a good question -- perhaps the core question, the essential question. How are you/we going to do this?

I'd say that this process has to go through a series of growth and development stages that involve first of all building a body of shared principles. That alone might be very challenging. These principles should not be defined at the level of particular sciences and disciplines -- but at a general and "universal" level. I'd probably start out by suggesting ways to define all abstract concepts in ways that are tightly grounded in measurement. That's a big general principle that should exist at the heart of any universal semantic ontology hoping to fan out like the branches of "the single tree of science and humanities" that this concept implies. Once we are solidly grounded, we can then see what defines the top -- or the "trunk" of the tree, from which all this diversity emerges.

What is abstraction? What is generalization? How are "the disciplines" organized along some single spectrum of levels -- if they can be -- and if so, what would that spectrum look like? I'd say the dimensionality of such a structure can be defined -- perhaps by defining the "types of measurement", that characterize each discipline as per Stanly Smith Stevens.

If this structure was defined on a shared spectrum, there would be something like a universal version of the "trellis" that Amit Sheth discussed yesterday. We would have a shared framework of underlying assumptions and principles on which to grow and align the vines of our diversified inquiries.

Bruce
> We are not trying to make a rigid list of word meanings – we’re trying
> to make language absolutely and infinitely fluent – and derived from a
> common source.

JS
> You have such a language. It's called English. Other people speak thousands
> of other languages. Formal ontologies specified in formal logics were
> designed to enable those systems to work together.
> But what if they're using different definitions for the same words?

That's the point. Because we do not understand the derivation and definition of meaning, we wander into a blind daze and announce incommensurateness.

But powerful general-purpose definitions CAN emerge -- which then see all special languages as diversified instances of common principles.

That's the kind of TOC I'd like to see emerge.

There's a lot more to say, thanks for the comment and this discussion.

- BRS


Richard H. McCullough

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May 8, 2019, 12:39:48 PM5/8/19
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Doug, John, & all

You can count me in the "impossible" camp.
I think that multiple ontologies are natural and necessary.

I would like to clarify how I envision that synset definitions
can improve an ontology. An ontology specifies connections
between the concepts of a hierarchical lattice. It also needs
to specify the properties of the concepts which account for
the connections.

A concept with a single genus can be described by a 
classical genus-differentia definition. A concept with 
multiple genera can be said to have a synset of un-named
components, each of which has one genus and
can be described by a classical genus-differentia
definition. Each genus corresponds to a different
context which has been integrated into the ontology.

Identifying the genus-differentia definitions is hard!
But it is necessary to create a good ontology.

Dick

What is your context?

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Patrick Stingley

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May 8, 2019, 1:04:25 PM5/8/19
to ontolo...@googlegroups.com, Adam Pease
I have invited Adam Pease (the author of SUMO) to weigh in on this because after 20 years of working to establish a master ontology (including WordNet among others), he’s found a lot of considerations that are not apparent until well after the work has begun.

Respectfully,

Patrick Stingley

Adam Pease

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May 8, 2019, 3:58:11 PM5/8/19
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Hi Patrick,
Many thanks for the mention. Others have different opinions but I
see SUMO (http://www.ontologyportal.org) as a clear existence proof that
a common ontology is possible. After nearly two decades of encoding a
wide variety of domains, each new project has required elaboration but
not rework of any significant portion of the ontology.
Much like conventional procedural programming, we've collectively
realized that with some considerable effort, reusable generalizations
are possible.

all the best,
Adam


On 5/8/19 7:04 PM, Patrick Stingley wrote:
> I have invited Adam Pease (the author of SUMO) to weigh in on this
> because after 20 years of working to establish a master ontology
> (including WordNet among others), he’s found a lot of considerations
> that are not apparent until well after the work has begun.
>
> Respectfully,
>
> Patrick Stingley
>
> On May 7, 2019, at 2:58 PM, Stingley, Patrick <psti...@blm.gov
> <mailto:psti...@blm.gov>> wrote:
>
>> I disagree that a single unified ontology is impossible.  In fact, I
>> believe it is inevitable.
>> It is not impossible because SUMO exists.   Maybe someone can correct
>> me if this doesn't count as a satisfactory example disproving the thesis.
>>
>> It is inevitable for the following reason.  As we learn from suffering
>> with Protege, all of the members of our ontologies derive from the
>> "Thing" object.
>> In Set Theory, the only thing all sets have in common is the Null Set
>> and nothing can be derived from the Null Set.
>> Since everything in our ontologies derives from the Thing object, they
>> must all have this in common, which means that they are not disjoint,
>> but in fact are all part of a superset ontology.
>>
>> v.r.,
>>
>> Patrick Stingley
>>
>>
>> On Tue, May 7, 2019 at 1:49 PM Richard H. McCullough
>> <rhmccu...@gmail.com <mailto:rhmccu...@gmail.com>> wrote:
>>
>> John, you said
>>
>> ...language-based resources, such as WordNet,
>> are more useful for relating multiple ontologies than any single
>> top-level ontology that privileges one choice over an infinity
>> of other options.
>> **//___^
>> <mailto:ontolog-forum%2Bunsu...@googlegroups.com>.
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>>
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--
--------
Adam Pease
http://www.ontologyportal.org
http://www.adampease.org
@apease_ontology on Twitter

Kingsley Idehen

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May 8, 2019, 5:37:04 PM5/8/19
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On 5/8/19 3:58 PM, Adam Pease wrote:
Hi Patrick,
   Many thanks for the mention.  Others have different opinions but I 
see SUMO (http://www.ontologyportal.org) as a clear existence proof that 
a common ontology is possible.  After nearly two decades of encoding a 
wide variety of domains, each new project has required elaboration but 
not rework of any significant portion of the ontology.
   Much like conventional procedural programming, we've collectively 
realized that with some considerable effort, reusable generalizations 
are possible.

all the best,
Adam


Hi Adam,

It has been a while!

Anyway, I quickly loaded your SUMO->Wordnet and SUMO rendition in OWL to our URIBurner instance.

Results:

1. Entity Type Sampling -- just click !

2. SPARQL Query Definition


Kingsley

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Adam Pease

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May 9, 2019, 4:04:39 AM5/9/19
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Hi Kingsley,
Thanks for doing this! The SUMO OWL file is a bit out of date so
I'll see about producing the current version for you over the coming
weeks. It also doesn't include the bulk of the combined SUMO that has
dozens of domain ontologies. But is a very welcome start!

all the best,
Adam


On 5/8/19 11:36 PM, Kingsley Idehen wrote:
> On 5/8/19 3:58 PM, Adam Pease wrote:
>> Hi Patrick,
>> Many thanks for the mention. Others have different opinions but I
>> see SUMO (http://www.ontologyportal.org) as a clear existence proof that
>> a common ontology is possible. After nearly two decades of encoding a
>> wide variety of domains, each new project has required elaboration but
>> not rework of any significant portion of the ontology.
>> Much like conventional procedural programming, we've collectively
>> realized that with some considerable effort, reusable generalizations
>> are possible.
>>
>> all the best,
>> Adam
>
>
> Hi Adam,
>
> It has been a while!
>
> Anyway, I quickly loaded your SUMO->Wordnet and SUMO rendition in OWL to
> our URIBurner instance.
>
> Results:
>
> 1. Entity Type Sampling
> <http://linkeddata.uriburner.com/sparql?default-graph-uri=&query=%0D%0ASELECT+%28SAMPLE%28%3Fs%29+AS+%3Fsample%29+%28COUNT%281%29+AS+%3Fcount%29++%28%3Fo+AS+%3FentityType%29%0D%0AFROM+%3Chttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.adampease.org%2FOP%2FWordNet.owl%3E%0D%0AWHERE+%7B%0D%0A++++++++%3Fs+a+%3Fo.+%0D%0A%09%09FILTER+%28isIRI%28%3Fs%29%29+%0D%0A++++++%7D+%0D%0AGROUP+BY+%3Fo%0D%0AORDER+BY+DESC+%28%3Fcount%29%0D%0A%0D%0A%0D%0A&should-sponge=&format=text%2Fx-html%2Btr&CXML_redir_for_subjs=121&CXML_redir_for_hrefs=&timeout=30000000>
> -- just click !
>
> 2. SPARQL Query Definition
> <http://linkeddata.uriburner.com/sparql?default-graph-uri=&qtxt=%0D%0ASELECT+%28SAMPLE%28%3Fs%29+AS+%3Fsample%29+%28COUNT%281%29+AS+%3Fcount%29++%28%3Fo+AS+%3FentityType%29%0D%0AFROM+%3Chttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.adampease.org%2FOP%2FWordNet.owl%3E%0D%0AWHERE+%7B%0D%0A++++++++%3Fs+a+%3Fo.+%0D%0A%09%09FILTER+%28isIRI%28%3Fs%29%29+%0D%0A++++++%7D+%0D%0AGROUP+BY+%3Fo%0D%0AORDER+BY+DESC+%28%3Fcount%29%0D%0A%0D%0A%0D%0A&should-sponge=&format=text%2Fx-html%2Btr&CXML_redir_for_subjs=121&CXML_redir_for_hrefs=&timeout=30000000>
>>>> unsubscribe to the forum, seehttp://ontologforum.org/info/
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Azamat Abdoullaev

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May 9, 2019, 5:02:02 AM5/9/19
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Adam,
I found 52 versions of SUMO, the first one as below. 
Now wonder if the last one makes a final TLO, or there is some real world schema behind as a trade secrete. Thanks 
image.png
The basis for the merge is
;; is the upper level of Sowa's ontology.  The definitions and axioms of the other sources 
;; have been mapped into this ontology.  Thus far, the merge incorporates Russell and Norvig's
;; ontology, Casati and Varzi's theory of holes, Allen's temporal axioms, the relatively 
;; noncontroversial elements of Smith's and Guarino's respective mereotopologies, and the KIF ;; formalization of CPR.  Note that this file does not not, as of yet, include Sowa's ;; upper-level ontology. 

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Adam Pease

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May 9, 2019, 5:08:23 AM5/9/19
to Azamat Abdoullaev, ontolog-forum
Hi Azamat,
The latest version of SUMO is in
https://github.com/ontologyportal/sumo. I've tried to keep all prior
versions of SUMO so people can see how it has evolved.

all the best,
Adam


On 5/9/19 11:01 AM, Azamat Abdoullaev wrote:
> Adam,
> I found 52 versions of SUMO, the first one as below.
> Now wonder if the last one makes a final TLO, or there is some real
> world schema behind as a trade secrete. Thanks
> image.png
>
> The basis for the merge is
> ;; is the upper level of Sowa's ontology. The definitions and axioms of the other sources
> ;; have been mapped into this ontology. Thus far, the merge incorporates Russell and Norvig's
> ;; ontology, Casati and Varzi's theory of holes, Allen's temporal axioms, the relatively
> ;; noncontroversial elements of Smith's and Guarino's respective mereotopologies, and the KIF ;; formalization of CPR. Note that this file does not not, as of yet, include Sowa's ;; upper-level ontology.
>
>
> On Thu, May 9, 2019 at 11:04 AM Adam Pease
> <ape...@articulatesoftware.com <mailto:ape...@articulatesoftware.com>>
> >>> <mailto:psti...@blm.gov <mailto:psti...@blm.gov>>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> I disagree that a single unified ontology is impossible.  In
> fact, I
> >>>> believe it is inevitable.
> >>>> It is not impossible because SUMO exists.   Maybe someone can
> correct
> >>>> me if this doesn't count as a satisfactory example disproving
> the thesis.
> >>>>
> >>>> It is inevitable for the following reason.  As we learn from
> suffering
> >>>> with Protege, all of the members of our ontologies derive from the
> >>>> "Thing" object.
> >>>> In Set Theory, the only thing all sets have in common is the
> Null Set
> >>>> and nothing can be derived from the Null Set.
> >>>> Since everything in our ontologies derives from the Thing
> object, they
> >>>> must all have this in common, which means that they are not
> disjoint,
> >>>> but in fact are all part of a superset ontology.
> >>>>
> >>>> v.r.,
> >>>>
> >>>> Patrick Stingley
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> On Tue, May 7, 2019 at 1:49 PM Richard H. McCullough
> >>>> <rhmccu...@gmail.com <mailto:rhmccu...@gmail.com>
> <mailto:rhmccu...@gmail.com <mailto:rhmccu...@gmail.com>>> wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>>      John, you said
> >>>>
> >>>>      ...language-based resources, such as WordNet,
> >>>>      are more useful for relating multiple ontologies than any
> single
> >>>>      top-level ontology that privileges one choice over an
> infinity
> >>>>      of other options.
> >>>>      **//___^
> >>>>      I think the synset definitions are an important contributor
> >>>>      to the success of WordNet. These definitions describe the
> >>>>      use of a word in different contexts, and thus define
> >>>>      the concept hierarchy lattice of the ontology.
> >>>>      Without synset definitions, the ontology can be a
> >>>>      very ambiguous structure.
> >>>>      Richard H. McCullough
> >>>> http://ContextKnowledgeSystems.org
> >>>>      What is your context?
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>      On Tue, May 7, 2019 at 8:54 AM John F Sowa
> <so...@bestweb.net <mailto:so...@bestweb.net>
> seehttp://ontologforum.org/info/ <http://ontologforum.org/info/>
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Richard H. McCullough

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May 9, 2019, 9:17:29 AM5/9/19
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The SUMO knowledge base has made 
significant improvements since 2014.

A quick scan of the SUMO portal first page
shows that its overall structure is now
more like the microtheory structure of Cyc.

The Base Ontology could be viewed as
the mathematical TLO that John has suggested.

The SigmaKEE is an interactive knowledge explorer
using a Java-based web server.

What is your context?

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Kingsley Idehen

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May 9, 2019, 9:53:04 AM5/9/19
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On 5/8/19 11:18 AM, John F Sowa wrote:
Patrick
I disagree that a single unified ontology is impossible.
In fact, I believe it is inevitable.  It is not impossible
because SUMO exists.

SUMO is fine for your applications.  But suppose you're working
on a project that has to communicate with other systems that
use Cyc, DOLCE, BFO, ISO 15936, or no ontology at all.  How
can all the components communicate if they're using different
ontologies?


Hi John,

It is possible to cross-reference terms across ontologies and then use reasoning and inference for harmonization (or disparate data virtualization) [1].

[1] https://community.openlinksw.com/t/applying-reasoning-inference-to-equivalent-class-relationship-type-semantics/907 -- equivalent class reasoning across FOAF and Schema.org Ontologies (this is a very simple example; so much more is possible across ontologies using the same approach).

Azamat Abdoullaev

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May 9, 2019, 10:05:48 AM5/9/19
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To be fair, Schema.org Ontologies are hardly any real ontological schema of things.
Its Type Hierarchy is marked with over-relying on human computation, crowd-sourcing and free microworks. 

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bruces...@cox.net

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May 9, 2019, 1:03:04 PM5/9/19
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I am encouraged by this conversation and by the new voices that are showing up.

 

I have been inclined to suggest a kind of “ontology summit” that is intended to explore the issues involved in collaboratively developing a “single unified ontology”.

 

Yes, this is exploratory, yes this is challenging, yes there are feasibility and complexity issues.

 

As I have settled into this thought over the past week or so, responding to comments here, and attending the very interesting ontology summit seminars – and keeping an eye on what is going on right now in US politics – I have continued to develop what might (?) be a feasible approach to this subject.

 

Could a network emerge interested in exploration and development, if approached in the right way?

 

This morning, I am writing a detailed response in dialog format to the Wikipedia article on upper ontology – which discusses the issue in general, and then presents two arguments – one against the feasibility of a unified upper ontology, and another argument defending the feasibility.

 

My article might be a 15-page word.docx document, but it would be interesting for me to get some comments and response.  I might have it done by noon.

 

I like the Wikipedia article.  I think it is well-written, responsible, expert, and fertile. 

 

I think it makes sense for anyone interested in upper ontology – pro or con – to be acquainted with its arguments.  Take a look if you have ten minutes.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_ontology

 

In its list of working upper ontologies, the first one listed is John Sowa’s (1999).  The second is CYC.  BFO, Sumo, and WordNet are also discussed, as is the “Process Specification Language” (PSL) created by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).

 

Bruce Schuman

Santa Barbara CA USA, 805-705-9174

Weavingunity.net

 

From: ontolo...@googlegroups.com <ontolo...@googlegroups.com> On Behalf Of Azamat Abdoullaev
Sent: Thursday, May 9, 2019 7:05 AM
To: ontolog-forum <ontolo...@googlegroups.com>

Adam Pease

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May 9, 2019, 3:47:27 PM5/9/19
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Hi Richard,
Glad you've taken a look at the project. We've actually had the same
approach of multiple composable files in SigmaKEE and with separate
domain ontologies as part of SUMO since roughly the year 2002. It's a
straightforward approach that allows us to treat different and possibly
conflicting sets of knowledge in a formal inference framework much the
same way one could query a set of human experts. Each shares a large
amount of knowledge, but what they disagree on is held separately, and
may be queried and result in different conclusions, with different
proofs that describe their justifications for those conclusions.

all the best,
Adam


On 5/9/19 3:17 PM, Richard H. McCullough wrote:
> The SUMO knowledge base has made
> significant improvements since 2014.
>
> A quick scan of the SUMO portal first page
> http://www.ontologyportal.org <http://www.ontologyportal.org/>
> <mailto:ape...@articulatesoftware.com
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Matthew West

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May 9, 2019, 5:00:07 PM5/9/19
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Dear Bruce,

You won’t achieve a single Top Level Ontology, because different ones make different ontological choices that are inconsistent with each other. What might be achievable is collecting the top level ontologies into families that make the same ontological choices, and then map between those families.

Regards

Matthew West

bruces...@cox.net

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May 9, 2019, 5:56:55 PM5/9/19
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Thank you, Matthew.  That subject comes up in the Wikipedia article, and the author does make some suggestions regarding this issue.

 

I think one possible source of confusion has to do with what might be happening at the top level – which the Wikipedia author and I am suggesting should be approached through negotiation and very high-level generalizations – probably taken from cognitive science and concept theory or semantics, or maybe very basic mathematics (“what is a distinction in the continuum, and how is a label or value assigned to it?”)

 

In many ways I am new to this subject – and might be using the term “ontology” in a slightly different way than most professional working semantic ontologists.  I agree, absolutely, that what is at the top is pretty mysterious, and has to be very profound and universal to be workable under all circumstances.  So – this idea might be significantly different than what is at the top level of most working special-case ontologies.

 

MW

> What might be achievable is collecting the top level ontologies into families that make the same ontological choices, and then map between those families.

 

I like your idea and suggestion.  It is an unpretentious and workable starting point.  What would happen if we explored negotiation between representatives of these ontologies?  I do have some ideas on that I might share tomorrow.  “Start slow, ask questions, one step at a time, what do people want to do?”

 

Bruce Schuman

Santa Barbara CA USA, 805-705-9174

Weavingunity.net

 

Richard H. McCullough

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May 10, 2019, 1:16:50 AM5/10/19
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To all,

I just changed my mind. We're all thinking of things that are too complex.

The obvious universal upper ontology is:

                                                universe
                         _____________|_________________                                 
                        |                                                                  |
                    entity                                                         relation

entities are the fundamental units of the ontology
relations are combinations of entities

It can't be more simple or more complex and be universal.

Dick

Godfrey Rust

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May 10, 2019, 4:02:56 AM5/10/19
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Except that the top level hierarchy you have drawn directly contradicts the two conceptual definitions you have written, which imply that “relation” is a subclass of a top level element “entity”, and neither of them is a subclass of “universe” (whatever it is you mean by that).

 

Godfrey

 

From: ontolo...@googlegroups.com <ontolo...@googlegroups.com> On Behalf Of Richard H. McCullough
Sent: 10 May 2019 06:17
To: ontolo...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Re: Why a single unified ontology is impossible

 

To all,

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Azamat Abdoullaev

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May 10, 2019, 5:05:20 AM5/10/19
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In the beginning was the Entity, and the Entity was with God, and the Entity was God.

Entity/Thing ...
(Lattice Structure)...
Non-Entity/Nothing.

Universe is the maximum Entity.
Relation is a kind of (linking) Entity. 
"Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity" (Non sunt multiplicanda entia sine necessitate

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Matthew West

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May 10, 2019, 8:56:23 AM5/10/19
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Dear Bruce,

 

 

Thank you, Matthew.  That subject comes up in the Wikipedia article, and the author does make some suggestions regarding this issue.

 

I think one possible source of confusion has to do with what might be happening at the top level – which the Wikipedia author and I am suggesting should be approached through negotiation and very high-level generalizations – probably taken from cognitive science and concept theory or semantics, or maybe very basic mathematics (“what is a distinction in the continuum, and how is a label or value assigned to it?”)

 

[MW>] I don’t think negotiation is going to work. There is not room for compromise, the choices are distinct and non-scalar. Here are some examples:

  • Nominalist: There are no universals
  • Conceptualist: It’s all in the mind
  • Realist: There is an external reality
  • Presentist: All that exists is what exists now

 

  • Three Dimensionalist: There are continuants and occurrents where continuants are wholly present at each point in time they persist (so they do not have temporal parts) whilst occurrents occur over time (so have temporal parts)
  • Four Dimensionalist: Objects extend in time as well as space (so they do have temporal parts and there are no continuants)

 

  • Possibilist: Possible as well as actual objects exist
  • Actualist: recognizes only actually existing entities (at the level of both instances and universals)

Generally you have to pick one from each group. As an example of the different choices here are the choices made by BFO and ISO 15926.

 

Basic Formal Ontology

  • Realist
  • Three Dimensionalist
    • Continuants and occurrents
    • Temporal relationships
  • Actualist
    • Both sense and reference
    • Intensional types
  • Material entities and occurrents are extensional

 

ISO 15926-2/HQDM/IDEAS

  • Realist
  • Four Dimensionalist
    • Spatio-temporal extents
    • States and simple relationships
  • Possibilist
    • No sense without reference
    • Extensional sets/classes
  • Spatio-temporal extents are extensional

These choices affect how such ordinary things as plans, physical objects and information are handled.

 

In many ways I am new to this subject – and might be using the term “ontology” in a slightly different way than most professional working semantic ontologists.  I agree, absolutely, that what is at the top is pretty mysterious, and has to be very profound and universal to be workable under all circumstances.  So – this idea might be significantly different than what is at the top level of most working special-case ontologies.

[MW>] It certainly is.

 

MW

> What might be achievable is collecting the top level ontologies into families that make the same ontological choices, and then map between those families.

 

I like your idea and suggestion.  It is an unpretentious and workable starting point.  What would happen if we explored negotiation between representatives of these ontologies?  I do have some ideas on that I might share tomorrow.  “Start slow, ask questions, one step at a time, what do people want to do?”

[MW>] Yes, you can then hope to compare how they address the same things, and how well they actually manage to be universal (hint, many of them are more limited than they would have you believe).

ISO 21838-1 sets out a standard for documenting Top Level Ontologies. BFO already has a draft of conformant documentation, and I notice early work on DOLCE and I think PSL has recently been published. It will be interesting to see how this progresses as it shines a light on what we have at present.

Regards

Matthew West

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bruces...@cox.net

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May 11, 2019, 2:36:23 PM5/11/19
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I am continuing to explore this issue, and very much appreciate Matthew’s interesting comments and suggestions.  I want to review those issues and “division points”, and consider what might (?) be a possible path towards reconciliation.  I note that an announcement posted on Ontolog immediate following Matthew’s message mentioned an upcoming conference workshop where these issues will be discussed.  I thought that was fascinating and very encouraging timing.

 

Just for the moment, I want to send my experimental top-level hypothesis in a graphic format.  Yes, this is very brief and raises many complex and controversial issues.  And I am not proposing it – merely suggesting it as an object for creative contemplation.  But this point of view does suggest a top-level integration where all (supposedly all conceivable) facets of diversity in conceptual structure can be integrated and mapped into a common form.

 

***

 

 

***

image001.png
closedloopontology.png
Closed Loop Interval Ontology - diagram.docx

Azamat Abdoullaev

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May 13, 2019, 9:47:51 AM5/13/19
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That's a great effort to generalize/ontologize the Statistical Data Levels of Measurement, as below

Nominal, Nominal scales, qualitative scales, measurements made on qualitative scales called qualitative data; examples of categorical classifications include classical categorization and Conceptual clustering, gender, nationality, ethnicity, language, genre, style, biological species, and form, most important in science, learning, prediction, inference, decision making, language.

Ordinal, depicting some ordered relationships among the variable’s observations; Examples include, dichotomous data such as 'sick' vs. 'healthy', 'guilty' vs. 'not-guilty', 'wrong/false' vs. 'right/true', and non-dichotomous data consisting of a spectrum of values, such as 'completely agree', 'mostly agree', 'mostly disagree', 'completely disagree' when measuring opinion. 

Interval, the interval level of measurement classifies and orders the measurements, and also specifies that the distances between each interval on the scale are equivalent along the scale from low interval to high interval. It is as temperature with the Celsius scale, which has two defined points (the freezing and boiling point of water at specific conditions) separated into 100 intervals, date when measured from an arbitrary epoch (such as AD),  and location in Cartesian coordinates.

Ratio, the observations, in addition to having equal intervals, can have a value of zero as well. Most measurement in the physical sciences and engineering is done on ratio scales, as most quantitative variables, mass, length, duration, plane angle, energy, electric charge, etc.

Note the nominal level is the lowest measurement level used from a statistical point of view. 

Again, in statistics, all these levels of measurement are aimed to process, classify, rank, or specify DATA, while Ontology is to process, classify, rank, or specify ENTITY IN THE WORLD, as basjc kinds, classes, or clusters of things.

What might be really innovative is Statistical Ontology representing the World in terms Data Sets or Data Structures using Entity Categorization, scales of measure and statistical modeling and graphical techniques. 

The statistical domain ontologies tend to be populations and samples and use cases, variables and values, data sets and big data, as well as complex applied ontologies, as artificial neural networks, common frameworks for machine learning algorithms.

Statistical Ontology is to underpin not only  the mathematical science of statistics, but its many future applications, as Statistical AI, Computational statistics, or Statistical Computing, Statistical learning theory, etc, all to progressively represent/measure the world and its content as data, information, knowledge and wisdom.


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bruces...@cox.net

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May 13, 2019, 7:44:15 PM5/13/19
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BS

> I am fascinated by this notion of “universal container”.

 

MW

> The real question is not the container, it is what you put in it.

 

JS

> I agree.  But I would say that it's irrelevant what you call it.

Some basic questions:

What's in it?  How did it get that way?  Why?  How can we describe it?

What does it mean for us?  What can we do about it?  What should we do about it? 

What are the implications of the various options? Why should we care?

 

BS

  • What’s in it?
    • A catalog of differing perspectives on fundamental ontological issues, plus proposals for reconciling those differences into an integrated comprehensive framework
  • How did it get that way?
    • We got our heads together and we built it – using everything we know or can discover, and everything everybody brought to the table from any point of view
  • Why?
    • Why we built it: because it is obviously needed in the world, plus its fun and very interesting
    • Why it got that way: because we been around the block and we think it’s cool, plus we think the alternatives are a bore.  Why else did we get born?
  • How can we describe it?
    • We can list the elements
    • We can describe how they are connected, and why they are connected, and what they can do when they are connected, and why that is a step up for everybody concerned
    • We can list the participants
    • We can list their sources and inspirations and teachers and precedents
  • What does it mean for us?
    • It means we took one of the greatest and most interesting challenges in philosophic and scientific history and turned it into a working actual-problem-solving technology for the benefit of everybody
  • What can we do about it?
    • Spread the word, get more participation, solve more particular problems, become involved with the greatest initiatives moving across the planet today
  • What should we do about it?
    • Unfold and explore the fullest range of its implications, into all aspects of civilization and individual human life.  Keep babies happy and healthy, support mothers, give fathers a day off now and then
  • What are the implications of the various options?
    • We meet objections on their own terms, we don’t try to convert them to another viewpoint, we listen, we take notes, we understand them, we get it.  We build an interface.  We listen, we talk nice, we integrate and incorporate, we hook A and B together, and both A and B like it and it works for both of them.  The tide and the boats rise.
  • Why do we care?
    • Because we are decent human beings and that is what we do.  Plus it is interesting, and it looks good on the resume.

 

And oh yes, from the back cover of Applied Ontology: An Introduction, by Barry Smith and Katherine Munn, http://ontology.buffalo.edu/AppliedOntology.pdf

 

Ontology is the philosophical discipline which aims to understand how things in the world are divided into categories and how these categories are related together. This is exactly what information scientists aim for in creating structured, automated representations, called 'ontologies,' for managing information in fields such as science, government, industry, and healthcare. Currently, these systems are designed in a variety of different ways, so they cannot share data with one another. They are often idiosyncratically structured, accessible only to those who created them, and unable to serve as inputs for automated reasoning. This volume shows, in a nontechnical way and using examples from medicine and biology, how the rigorous application of theories and insights from philosophical ontology can improve the ontologies upon which information management depends.

 

*******

 

I've been wanting to reply to Matthew's suggestions for a few days, as I build out some way to approach his concerns and incorporate his suggestions.

 

For me, this notion of "container" makes a lot of sense.  So, if we are pursuing a unified ontology, what would it contain?

 

Let's say we start with a few broad definitions -- what is ontology, what is "semantic ontology", what is an "upper" (or "foundational") ontology, what are its components?

 

I'm happy to start with Wikipedia definitions.   These pages sketch out the subject area and some of the common ground, which I cite below in descending order of generality:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology -- broadest "container" – this highlighted sentence generally points in our specific direction

 

Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology_(information_science) – Our general topic in more specific terms

 

In computer science and information science, an ontology encompasses a representation, formal naming and definition of the categories, properties and relations between the concepts, data and entities that substantiate one, many or all domains.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology_components  -- a list of particular objects and elements in some specific context or domain

 

Contemporary ontologies share many structural similarities, regardless of the language in which they are expressed. Most ontologies describe individuals (instances), classes (concepts), attributes, and relations.

 

Matthew has cited a list of possible positions on underlying questions and methods, which he sees as incommensurate deal-breakers (without following the helpful approach he suggests).

 

What I am inclined to do – is review these issues – and perhaps develop a detailed catalog of these concerns and positions – nominalism, realism, conceptualism, etc.

 

So as predicate, I have to say I don’t see these various positions as unreconcilable – because I see them all as facets of (or perspectives within) a single underlying unity.   Our job as I see it is to define this underlying unity – and I personally see this as a reasonable and entirely rational undertaking.  We have many sources of insights, ranging from across the entire spectrum of scientific a