Ontolog Forum

Christopher Menzel

Associate Professor

Philosophy Department

Texas A&M University

College Station, TX 77840




A brief bio: I received my PhD in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame where I wrote a dissertation on the philosophy of mathematics. I was then a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University at the Center for the Study of Language and Information (, where I first became interested in knowledge representation. I have been a visiting researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Melbourne (, the Institute for Formal Ontology in Medical Information Science (IFOMIS) at the University of Saarland in Saarbrücken, Germany (, and more recently at the Intelligent Information Systems group at The Boeing Company.

My research interests reflect my initial background in "pure" metaphysics, formal ontology, and logic and my subsequent introduction to "applied" philosophy in the form of knowledge representation. On the pure side, my research focuses on understanding the logic of the so-called alethic modalities of necessity and possibility. I am particularly concerned with developing a very robust logic of modality that preserves our strongest modal intuitions but avoids ontological commitments that, with my philosopher's hat on, I find objectionable. On the applied side (where I tend to run roughshod over my philosophical scruples), I attempt to apply the tools and techniques of formal ontology and mathematical logic representing and managing information in engineering and manufacturing systems. I have spent a lot of time working on problems of representing dynamic information, especially in the context of the early development of the PSL project ( and a couple of papers with Michael Grüninger. More recently I have worked with Pat Hayes and others to develop a "Common Logic (CL)", a framework for characterizing logical languages and their interpretations in wholly abstract terms ( The hope is that thereby we can establish a clear and rigorous standard for writing ontologies in a logical language on the web that does not legislate any particular concrete that language should take. One need only express how the abstract constraints specified by CL are satisfied by the language one is using. In so doing, one thereby ensures the proper interpretation of one's language, at the logical level, at least, and facilitates the ability to translation of ontologies in that language into other knowledge representation languages.

See also:

  • Professor Menzel's invited talk to Ontolog can be found at: ConferenceCall_2004_11_04