Observations from OWL Experiences and Directions 2009

I attended OWL Experiences and Directions (OWLED) at the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC). The sessions were very good and I had the opportunity to meet some of the greats in the OWL 2 community. What a treat !

The RDF/OWL community continues to work through important issues in realism and nominalism and I thought it useful to relate an important conversation during a break between sessions. I asked Peter Patel-Schneider how the description logic community came to use the terms Concept and Role. Peter told me there was a perceived need in the 80s within the description logic community to differentiate the language of description logics from the language of object oriented programming. The sentiment was simply that the terms they used should seem more related to logic. It was nothing deeper than that. The object oriented programming community had already chosen the terms Class and Property. Those terms were out. And there’s no evidence the description logic community understood the significance of the term Concept as it relates to semiotics, realism and nominalism.

I was also part of a conversation in which someone was asked to reflect on the philosophical implications of ontology imports. Of course I was intrigued and listened carefully to the response. A question this general is difficult to answer but it, as well as the very nice presentation on the Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) given by Rinke Hoekstra, confirmed my intuition that government, industry and the Semantic Web community is seeking a deeper understanding of how realism and nominalism apply to implementation and interoperability. A better understanding of model theory can help, but controlled vocabularies, ontology importation and more generally ontology alignment within and across domains can also be better informed by identifying semiotics as domain.

Figure 1.

Since OWL ED and the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC) 2009, there’s been a useful exchange on the SKOS archive called Using DBPedia Resources as skos:Concepts. Pat Hayes brings to light some important issues in his comments which begin here.  You can find my comments related to figure 1, the interpretant triangle here.

The evidence from OWL Experiences and Directions as well as the SKOS archive indicate that better understanding the significance of realism and nominalism will remain important for many in 2010.

After some reorientation, I am becoming more comfortable working with higher order logic and Haskell. The Isabelle/HOL distribution is very nicely done and the setup on my OpenSolaris machine was really quite painless. Contrary to some opinions about Haskell literature, there’s a lot of great information available. Unlike Visual Basic, Java or C# you won’t be spoon-fed by a publisher or vendor. I highly recommend the AJT Davie’s Introduction to Functional Programming Systems Using Haskell. It’s one of those little books that provide the reader with enough of a perspective of the subject to cause the reader to develop their own approach and understanding. Thanks to Mr. Goodchord, one of my guitar teachers, who many years ago for helped me realize how useful these little books can be. The real joy is in developing the deep understanding that comes by educating oneself on a rich and fruitful subject like functional programming the value of which can last a lifetime.

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