Re: SUO: Program wants to work with SUO documents
Below is my suggestions for questions that can be
applied to upper ontologies for potential use.
First, however, to comment on potential military uses:
(1) Any ontology that is intended to be public will be available
for use by military organizations. The IEEE-SUO is intended
to be public.
(2) I did not interpret Jim's request as soliciting any formal response
by the SUO group as a group, but as a request to individuals with
expertise in ontology to help define evaluation criteria for existing
ontologies. Those criteria may have immediate use for military
organizations, but they will also be of use to any organization
that is considering using an upper ontology in their
applications. The latter is entirely appropriate for a group
concerned with standards development.
(3) I respect the views of those who are reluctant to see any of
their work used by the military. I am sure that they are
aware that the military may use any public information, but
if even an expression of interest by the military is sufficient
to create a moral dilemma, they can chose not to participate
in the creation of these evaluation criteria while continuing any
positive contributions to a general standard. It would be
regrettable if explicit mention of potential military use
would cause any members to cancel participation. That
would harm potential civilian uses perhaps even more than
the military, as civilian applications are more susceptible
to interoperability problems.
My suggestions for evaluating potential upper ontologies:
(1) Are there any freely available applications that use the
ontology and can be modified and tested locally to see
if the ontology is suitable for one's own application?
If not free, are such applications available for a modest
fee ( < $100)?
(2) If not, are there proprietary applications for which
examples of results in several problem areas are available
that would serve to allow others to evaluate the ontology?
(3) If demonstration results are not available, are there
proprietary applications that use the ontology in any area?
(4) Internal criteria of design and breadth.
(4a) How much time (for how many people) would it take
for an outside group to adapt the ontology to a novel use:
1. without direct assistance from the developing group?
2 with funded assistance from the developers?
On how many examples of experience is the estimate based?
(4b) Potential for improvement: is the ontology available
in a form that can be understood by domain experts with
minimal (< 1 week) training so that they can add knowledge
directly? Or will it have to be extended by experienced
Is there a specialized development environment to
ease the effort of knowledge entry?
If the ontology is proprietary, will the users be able to
modify it and use it without further cost, or will maintenance
or expansion require additional fees?
(4c) Breadth: How well will it support many domains?
How many domain extensions (requiring more than 200
specialized concepts) have been built using the
upper ontology? Which domains? How many of these
have been directly tested in applications?
(4c) Language: In what representation language is the
ontology being developed? Is there an automatic converter
into any other representation language? Is the full
development language specification freely available to the
public? Does the language support full first-order
inference or is it a restricted subset of first-order
Are there specialized reasoning modules available? How
many and of what capability?
(4d) Current size: how many concepts are included in the
axioms (logical implications)?
(5) Alternate versions
In the case of systems, like CYC or SUMO, that are
available in a smaller public form, the above questions
would have to be answered for one or both of the
systems individually. The capabilities of a full
proprietary system cannot be attributed to a small
portion released publicly.
form my own understanding of CYC and SUMO as well as lesser
acquaintance with other ontologies, I would suggest that
any serious ontology development effort with a deadline of
more than two years not adopt any existing ontology, but
use a part of the necessary adaptive effort to create a
broader and more comprehensive upper ontology by including
all useful and consistent elements from all existing
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