Taxonomies and Ontologies for Development of Lexicon Steven
Taxonomies and Ontologies for Development of Lexicon Steven Jenkins Principal Engineer Copyright 2018 California Institute of Technology. U.S. Government sponsorship acknowledged. I was asked to speak on taxonomies and ontologies for development of lexicon. Doesnt exactly sizzle, does it? Overview/ Background After a little thought, however, I like this title. The best way to construct a lexicon is to construct an ontology, as I shall attempt to demonstrate, even though it may seem backwards. And to make it fun, Im calling it 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting
2 Ontology Advice from Dead Philosophers 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 3 Who Said It? A preliminary conception, indefinite but comprehensive, is needful as an introduction to a definite conception. A complex idea is not communicable directly, by giving one after another their component parts in their finished forms; since if no outline pre-exists in the mind of the recipient those component parts will not be rightly combined. Much labor has to be gone through which would have been saved had a general notion, however cloudy, been conveyed before the distinct and detailed delineation was commenced.
Herbert Spencer, English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist First Principles, 1867 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 4 The Takeaway We should not begin by attempting to define words precisely. We need to develop ideas first. Complex ideas require successive refinement after examination from multiple points of view. But dont we need definitions? 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 5
Who Said It? [A] definition cannot establish the meaning of a term any While we may sayderivation that the essentialist more than a logical can establishinterpretation the truth of a statement; both can only shift this back. Thethe left reads a definition 'normally', thatproblem is to say, from shifts the problem back toas
theitpremises, toderivation the right, we can say thatofatruth definition, is the definition the problem of meaning back to back the to normally usedshifts in modern science, must be read defining termsthe (i.e.,right the terms defining front, or from to thethat
left;make for itthe starts with the formula). But these, for many reasons, are likely to be just as defining formula, and asks for a short label for it. Thus vague and confusing as the terms we started with; and in any the scientific view of to the 'A them puppy a young case, we should have godefinition on to define inis turn; which dog' would be
that it is an answer to the question leads to new terms which too must be defined. And so on, to 'What shall call a young dog?'that rather than an should infinity. Onewe sees that the demand all our terms answer to the question
'Whatas is the a puppy? be defined is just as untenable demand that all our statements should be proved. Karl Popper, Austrian-British philosopher and professor, generally regarded as one of the 20th century's greatest philosophers of science Two Kinds of Definitions, 1945 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 6 An essentialist definition answers What does this word mean? The Takeaway
A nominalist definition answers What shall we call this useful concept? All useful definitions in science are nominalist. The utility of a concept depends on its meaning, not its definition. Insisting on defining ones terms is a bad way to start. OK, but how do we find useful, meaningful concepts? 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 7 Who Said It? It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge of what energy is. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount. It is not that way. However, there are formulas for calculating some numerical quantity, and when we add it all together it gives "28"always the same number. It is an abstract thing in that it does not tell us the mechanism or the reasons for the various formulas.
Richard Feynman, American theoretical physicist, Nobel laureate Lectures on Physics, 1960 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 8 When Feynman said [W]e have no knowledge of what energy is [his emphasis], he was rejecting the essentialist viewpoint. esse is Latin for to be The Takeaway The important idea is the numerical quantity that appears to be conserved. In this case, its , the so-called total energy of a system. The concept is important because is conserved. The key is to find the concepts that appear to be important.
That works for science, but are we doing science? 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 9 The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. Who Said It? Karl Marx, German philosopher, economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist Theses on Feuerbach, 1845 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 10 Who Said It?
The general tone of my Presidential Address to the British Association [for the Advancement of Science] may give the impression that I am an optimist, but indeed I am no such thing, though I admit to a sanguine temperament. I prefer to describe myself as a 'meliorist one who believes the world can be improved by finding out what is wrong with it and then taking steps to put it right. Peter Medawar, British biologist, Nobel laureate Plutos Republic, 1982 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 11 Our job is not to be ethnographers, filling our notebooks with detailed descriptions of the wide variety of usages, conventions, interpretations, etc., in engineering information exchange. Were not interpreting the world. The Takeaway
The reason were here is that there isnt any real consensus practice for exchange of digital engineering information. Thats something wrong with the world; we should take steps to set it right. We should not search in vain for a consensus that doesnt exist. Instead, we should develop useful ideas and build consensus for them because theyre useful. Which brings up one more thought. 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 12 Who Said It? The proper technique is clearly to postpone the concerns for general acceptance until you have reached a result of such a quality that it deserves acceptance. It is the significance of your message that should justify the care that you give to its presentation, it may be its "unusualness" that makes extra care
necessary. And, secondly, what is "general"? Has Albert Einstein failed because the Theory of Relativity is too difficult for the average high school student? Edsger Dijkstra, Dutch systems scientist, programmer, software engineer, science essayist, and early pioneer in computing science On the role of scientific thought, 1974 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 13 Our job is to create useful things that work. Its easy to get broad agreement on things that dont work: The Takeaway Convene in tropical resorts every January.
Accept everyones favorite input. Ignore gaps and inconsistencies. Issue handsome certificates to all involved. But what does it mean to work in this context? It means the concepts, properties, and rules we agree to must help us reason about engineered systems: answering questions, checking invariants, creating products. Why would we want to exchange information otherwise? Lets make it work first, then try to sell it because it works. 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 14 A Quick Example 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting
15 A Requiremen t Consider a simple text requirement such as The flight system mass shall not exceed 200 kg. Theres a constraint in there: . And the word shall indicates some sort of imperative. Lets try to structure that a little. 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 16 Requiremen t A Simple Requiremen t Pattern
imposes bind s Component Constraint constrai ns characteriz es Property Rule: imposes constrains characterizes binds 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting 17 In just a few minutes of informal thinking, we identified four concepts that appear to be useful, which were calling Requirement, Constraint, Property,
Component, identified four relationships that appear to be useful, which were calling imposes, constrains, characterizes, binds What Did We Just Do? and identified a rule that relates three relationships to the fourth. We began to define a little language to exchange information about Requirements and Constraints and Properties and Components. That is, we started building an ontology for engineering information exchange. Youre welcome! There are obvious directions for further work (e.g., flowdown, Constraint) And we didnt have to define a single term. 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting
18 When were finished, our ontology will cover everything that we agree its meaningful to say about a Requirement. Of Course There Will Be A Lexicon That is, the ontology will enumerate those commitments to which weve agreed about the concept of a Requirement. And Constraint, and Property, and . It will be useful to summarize those commitments in a few sentences (i.e., for the lexicon). But its just a summarythe real meaning is the ontology. Theres no point in trying to summarize the commitments before weve made them So lets get on with building ontologies. 2018-07-09 DEIXWG Inaugural Meeting
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