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AW: SUO: The lattice of theories


I don't have the time to read all the allegedly relevant posts, I trust
you'll be kind enough to forgive, maybe indicate, any omission or
misunderstanding. Also, this might sound as yet another colorful message. I
suggest that people aware of the French language and who might be offended
by the string of letters 'shit' skip this message and that usual critical
and productive discussions go on peacefully as part of this ontological

The first disclamer is that I am not fighting against perspectivism or some
generally ethno-ontological approach.

Same question as asked to Franck. How do the 'concepts' in the registry
found the development of other concepts?

Could you quickly explain (or send a pointer to such explanation) why it is
so important that the set of primitive be minimal? That doesn't seem
justified. If it turns out that there are meta-ontological categories that
are relevant to any domain, I don't see why reductionism should be prefered
to some form or another of pluralism.

I am sure you explained this already and several times, but I cannot
understand what's so crucial about having a set of meaningless concepts. Are
you just interested in having handles and some sort of skeletic articulation
between handles?

Here's a minimal set of underspecified concepts: {Merde, Merdique,
Merditude}. I am genuinely convinced that the world revolves around these
concepts and that they can serve as basis for the task that you seem to have
in mind. I claim that neither are pairwise reducible and I don't want to
associate a meaning to these, that seems to fit your requirements. Do you
agree? That would make two of us and we'd have a pretty robust
meta-ontological , maybe even ontological claim here. Would you like to
present a motion for a starter document?

I don't really understand your point about gravity (or was it "garvity"?) By
'concept', do you mean 'word'?

Thanks for clarifying those points and for your time.

> -----Ursprungliche Nachricht-----
> Von:
> []Im Auftrag von
> Jean-Luc Delatre
> Gesendet: Dienstag, 11. Juni 2002 08:57
> An: Frank Farance
> Cc:
> Betreff: Re: SUO: The lattice of theories
> Hi Frank,
> Strangely enough, I found myself in agreement with most of what
> you say in:
> > About a month ago (2002-05-12 E-mail to SUO list), I had
> suggested some ideas for organizing the SUO work, which is
> consistent with your "lattice" or "library of theories" approach.
>  There were three kinds of standards that were necessary (I've
> slightly edited my words of 2002-05-12):
> >
> >         - Type #1 (the registry): A registry of general
> concepts where there is common agreement.  The goal would be to
> build consensus around a bunch of concepts and, hopefully, these
> general concepts could be used as a foundation for developing
> other concepts.  Note 1: I believe that SUMO, some portion of
> IFF, and OpenCyc might be this kind of standard.  Note 2: We
> might want to relax the constraint of "common agreement".  Note
> 3: This kind of standard usually produces two separate standards:
> the registry (i.e., the "table" of entries -- the technical
> part), and the registration authority process (i.e., how we agree
> to include entries in the table -- the administrative part).
> Right, there should be a *minimal* core of general concepts that
> should be blessed
> with "common agreement" and used as a foundation for developing
> other concepts.
> My take on this is only slightly more precise, in that the number
> of such concepts
> SHOULD be kept to a minimum, *and*, even more imperatively still
> be left open as
> the content or definition of such concepts is concerned. For
> instance it might be
> that the concept of 'mass' is recognised as one which NEED a
> common agreement, but
> at any given time the *definition* of this concept should be left open.
> That is, the *characteristic* attributes (properties... whatever
> one like to name
> them, be easy on the formalism during design debates...) should
> be replaceable
> and amendable thru consensual debate but with a *linear* ordering
> of the successive
> commonly endorsed definitions. And this is where *some* unique
> registration authority
> is needed, but just to record the evolution of the consensus, NOT
> to define it.
> >         - Type #2 (the relationships/mappings): A technique for
> mapping one set of concepts to another.  Why do we care about
> mappings?  Because, e.g., that's all the market wants, or maybe
> it's impossible to get to common agreement on all the entries in
> Type #1.  So this kind of standard would specify we describe, in
> general, mapping one set of concepts to another.  Note: I believe
> that some portion of IFF might be this kind of standard.
> This is fine too, but I would not use the word "mapping" because
> in most cases it is
> NOT possible to represent exactly a concept from a given language
> (environment, jargon,
> culture, whatever...) with concepts from another language or even
> with concepts from
> a different theoretical setting for the same field.
> Of course a coarse mapping is a minimum, like with the well known
> reduced color set
> of some american indians (tit, lak, tulak for green/blue, red,
> orange/yellow/brown)
> with which any translation will loose information but
> nevertheless give some
> idea of what the color looks like.
> A more satisfactory solution would be to spread the awareness of
> this difficulty
> among users and application designers, so that they don't naively
> assume that a
> simple minded "translation " will do and that they make provision
> for a more
> sophisticated treatement of foreign concepts and ideas. The first
> step for this
> being at least to tag the translated concepts with some
> information about their
> original source. But this is a long term evangelisation process.
> >         - Type #3: We specify the necessary attributes to
> describe a concept.  In other words, we wouldn't be specifying
> the concepts themselves, but we'd specify the required
> descriptive attributes when  describing a concept.  Note: Someone
> had mentioned something "metadata for ontologies" <-- an example
> of a Type #3 standard.
> YES, rules about rules, this is *obviously* needed. But given
> that mathematics should
> not be excluded from the realm of ontologies, does not this mean
> that some *high order*
> statements should be expressible in the ontology language used to
> define constraints?
> >         These types of standards could be further partitioned
> or combined ... other types are possible, too.  And once we've
> settled on the types of standards we want, we'll probably need to
> specify how to use this kind of information from an IT
> perspective, e.g., codings (file formats, XML, KIF, etc.), APIs
> (objects/interfaces with convenient paradigms in C/C++, Java,
> LISP, etc.), protocols (ontology exchange, storage/retrieval,
> etc.), and so on.  <-- But most of this stuff is lower level
> engineering (also known as "bindings") because we really need to
> decide what kind of standard we want: Type #1, ..., Type #N, or
> some combination.
> That would be REAL GREAT to have something to sort out the mess
> in software APIs!!!
> > JS> Furthermore, you can start your library with as many or as
> few theories
> > > as you want.  A single monolithic theory, such as SUMO, is simply a
> > > lattice with just one element.  If you break SUMO into
> modules, you can
> > > still keep SUMO in the lattice as one complete whole, with each of its
> > > submodules as different generalizations.
> >
> > As I had mentioned in my E-mail of 2002-05-12, I suggested that
> the approach would be to
> > "grow" the registry over time ... add entries, as
> appropriate/as approved.  I don't know
> > how many entries SUMO would require ... and there might be more
> than one "modular"
> > representation/decompisition of SUMO if we used Type #1 and
> Type #2 standards.
> >
> > Once the registry were large, it would have the usual issues
> concerning searching,
> > indexing, tagging, etc..  This is why I suggested that we also
> look into a Type #3 standard
> > ("metadata for ontologies") to support the larger structures
> when they become available.
> I could not state it better.
> This is a kind of "bootstrapping" process, as the usefulness of
> the ontological
> framework improves, it will also be usable to improve it's own structure.
> > > MU> Any UNIMPORTANT differences among representations for the same
> > >  > concepts should be eliminated.  To some extent it will be arbitrary
> > >  > deciding which one to choose. Where there are important differences
> > >  > these should be at attempt to keep them to a minimum and
> as you say,
> > >  > document them carefully so users can choose.
> > >
> > > That is the beauty of having a library of theories instead of one big
> > > lump.  Each separate theory can be reviewed, studied, and evaluated
> > > on its own merits and on its merits in comparison to its neighbors.
> >
> > One reason for keeping slightly different representations is to
> deal with "drift"
> > over time ("terminology drift", "concept drift", etc.).  It
> might be useful to have
> > the 1970-timeframe thinking available, even though (presuably)
> the 2002-thinking would
> > be more up-to-date.  For practical reasons, both would need to
> be available.
> For practical reasons, *many* variants of the same concept should
> be kept available
> such that, whenever you read/hear about some concept as stated by
> *some* source,
> be it an author, a standard body, a lexicon etc... you can figure
> out what *they*
> mean and not assume that *this* occurence of the concept has the
> *standard* meaning.
> Once a mechanism would have been agreed upon to provide with such
> multiple meanings
> qualified by their source it will be able to deal with EVERY such
> case, including
> revision levels of concepts from the same author.
> Ultimately, and except for concepts from the "registry" (as
> defined at the beginning
> of your message), there will be no such thing as a "standard meaning".
> And even there, there will be "gravity" as of Newton's era,
> "gravity" as before 1905,
> "gravity" as after 1905, "gravity" as of today, etc...
> Cheers.
> -- Jean-Luc Delatre
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------------
> "Nothing is more annoying in the ordinary intercourse of life
> than this irritable
>  patriotism of the Americans. A foreigner will gladly agree to
> praise much in their
>  country, but he would like to be allowed to criticize something,
> and that he is
>  absolutely refused."    - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in
> America (1831).
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