SUO: RE: Comment #12 - 'Definition of Ontology'
.. As a newcomer to the ontological field, I agree the original
definition is incomplete. However, Chris's suggestion still doesn't explain
enough for me to get a clear understanding. I would still like to simplify
the language we are using, so we can more simply and clearly articulate the
project. I suggest that our aim should be for the Scope and Purpose to
express what we are doing in terms that:
* almost all people can understand; and
* will give most a good idea of how we are going about it.
. I somewhat get the impression that what we are aiming at (and I'm
not really sure this is actually an "ontology") is a simplified language
attempting to strip out ambiguities, and clearly distinguish objects (be
they physical or conceptual) and processes performed on those objects. This
certainly strikes me as a laudable objective, and one that would greatly
facilitate automated information processing. It would strive to achieve the
essence of the meaning everyone tries to convey with current ordinary
. I suggest such a language needs to include:
* a simplified vocabulary - in terms of both lexicon and semantics,
basically with clear and precise definitions and without metaphors or other
devices that add to ambiguity; and
* a logical grammar or syntax.
. A complication with this approach, often causing confusion among lay
people, is the fact that processes (eg. as indicated by verbs) are able to
be handled as conceptual objects. There is consequently a need to
distinguish between such process concepts, and the processes being performed
. If I am off the track, I would greatly appreciate some advice of
what is being tried to be achieved that is different to the above, or else
in what way it needs to have its scope narrowed.
Cheers Graham Horn
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Email: Graham.Horn@aihw.gov.au <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Schoening, James R CECOM DCSC4I
Sent: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 12:56 PM
To: 'Standard-Upper-Ontology (E-mail) '
Subject: SUO: Comment #12 - 'Definition of Ontology'
Let's now discuss the comment from Chris Menzel on the definition of
> An ontology is a set of terms and formal definitions.
Rather incomplete, I think as an essential part of any robust ontology
is a specification (usually in the form of formal axioms) of the logical
connections between the terms in the ontology. The strict notion of
formal definition does not encompass this.
The original Scope and Purpose is as follows:
Scope of Proposed Project:
(The Scope describes what is being done, including the technical boundaries
of the project.)
This standard will specify the syntax and semantics of a general-purpose
upper level ontology. An ontology is a set of terms and formal definitions.
This will be limited to the upper level, which provides definition for
general-purpose terms and provides a structure for compliant lower level
domain ontologies. It is estimated to contain between 1000 and 2500 terms
plus roughly ten definitional statements for each term. It is intended to
provide the foundation for ontologies of much larger size and more specific
Purpose of Proposed Project:
(The Purpose describes why the standard needs to be developed and who will
* The standard will be suitable for automated logical inference to
support knowledge-based reasoning applications.
* This standard will enable the development of a large (20,000+)
general-purpose standard ontology of common concepts to be developed, which
will provide the basis for middle-level domain ontologies and lower-level
* The ontology will be suitable for "compilation" to more restricted
forms such as XML or database schema. This will enable database developers
to define new data elements in terms of a common ontology, and thereby gain
some degree of interoperability with other compliant systems.
* Owners of existing systems will be able to map existing data
elements just once to a common ontology, and thereby gain a degree of
interoperability with other representations that are compliant with the SUO.
* Domain-specific ontologies which are compliant with the SUO will be
able to interoperate (to some degree) by virtue of the shared common terms
* Applications of the ontology will include:
* E-commerce applications from different domains which need to
interoperate at both the data and semantic levels.
* Educational applications in which students learn concepts and
relationships directly from, or expressed in terms of, a common ontology.
This will also enable a standard record of learning to be kept.
* Natural language understanding tasks in which a knowledge based
reasoning system uses the ontology to disambiguate among likely
interpretations of natural language statements.