Ontolog Forum

Session Planning
Duration 1.5 hour
Date/Time Oct 18 2017 16:00 GMT
9:00am PDT/12:00pm EDT
6:00pm CEST/5:00pm BST
Convener MikeBennett

Ontology Summit 2018 Specifying Context with Upper Ontologies


In this session, we will examine the use of upper ontologies for specifying context. The session will be convened by Mike Bennett.


  • Introduction – what we aim to achieve
  • Example: slides presented at FOUST II
    • Extending Upper Ontology Partitions to Address Contextually Determined Concepts
    • FOUST II, JOWO, Bolzano, Sept 2017
  • Open issues and questions from that work
  • Discussion and comments
  • Strategize for this Track – speakers, topics

Conference Call Information

  • Date: Wednesday, 18-October-2017
  • Start Time: 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EDT / 6:00pm CEST / 5:00pm BST / 1600 UTC
  • Expected Call Duration: ~1.5 hours
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  • This session, like all other Ontolog events, is open to the public. Information relating to this session is shared on this wiki page.
  • Please note that this session may be recorded, and if so, the audio archive is expected to be made available as open content, along with the proceedings of the call to our community membership and the public at-large under our prevailing open IPR policy.



[12:06] Donna Fritzsche: Hi Everyone! Sorry for my absence - been working too much!

[12:12] Donna Fritzsche: meaning is derived from context?

[12:12] Donna Fritzsche: I don't think meaning is context

[12:14] David Whitten: perhaps meaning is clarified from context ?

[12:15] Donna Fritzsche: Context helps to disambiguate when several interpretations are allowed

[12:15] Donna Fritzsche: or implied

[12:16] David Whitten: Totally off topic: does anyone know how to contact Fritz Lehmann ?

[12:17] David Whitten: intensional meaning is membership by rule, extensional meaning is membership by list

[12:19] David Whitten: If everything in the ontology defines the context for everything else, you still need the references to the elements that this concept depends upon.

[12:20] Donna Fritzsche: Have we defined context - it is part of this discussion

[12:22] David Whitten: I assume a mediating thing is something used by a mediator to provide a common meaning (? context ?)

[12:22] JackRing: Context defines context only if Not Concepts are included.

[12:24] David Whitten: So Jack, if not-concepts are included, would this support the need for something like John Sowa's Conceptual Graphs ?

[12:24] Cory Casanave: Not sure ontology can "make context go away". e.g. a relationship may be true in the context of a timeframe. A law is in force in the context of a jurisdiction. A term is defined for a concept in a context. So I would think ontologies should make context explicit, not go away.

[12:25] David Whitten: also, does anyone know an open source implementation of John Sowa's Conceptual Graphs?

[12:25] Donna Fritzsche: Related to that Cory - Context is related to state. I agree with your assessment

[12:27] David Whitten: So contexts can change a concept from a varying definition to a new static one. The way "velocity" changes distance-changed-per-time into a definition that you can then use to define "acceleration" as "velocity-changed-per-time"

[12:29] Ram D. Sriram: In OO Programming there's the concept of Polymorphism which might be relevant here. In the example shown for Joint Stock Company, depending on where the question comes from the appropriate behavior is invoked.

[12:29] Cory Casanave: Dave: Interesting way to think about it.

[12:32] David Whitten: There are other triadic connectives other than mediating things. Such as Attending Patient in an Appointment.

[12:32] David Whitten: Unless you get so broad as to say "time" is a mediating thing.

[12:34] JackRing: There is no Independent thing else you would not be aware of it.

[12:34] David Whitten: Jack are you saying perception is necessary for Independence ?

[12:35] JackRing: Ram, Quite so. And then there is perspective shift wherein a thing has two kinds of effects.

[12:37] JackRing: David, I think Conceptual Graphs are necessary, in fact multi-conditional graphs (as in multiple inheritance)

[12:40] David Whitten: In the hierarchy of Contexts, what is the connective link called?

[12:40] Gary Berg-Cross: Do the 3 colors in slide 34 have some meaning or just help distinguish topics?

[12:41] Jim Disbrow: How can "reflexive" operators be incorporated into context, given that it's not apparently included on Sowa's list? Reflexivity is important when reflecting varying kinds of liabilities and relationships that are carried by either a person or corporation, especially when considering the economic impacts of personal and corporate environmental liabilities.

[12:41] Bo Newman: The argument and the use of the Partitions with the ontology may resolve the problem of context within an ontology, but that does not address the issues in exchanges not supported by explicit or available ontological structured. Agree or disagree.

[12:43] Cory Casanave: re: Mediating Things are one kind of Context. Or independent (and perhaps relative) things can also be mediating/context... Mediating may not be disjoint.

[12:47] David Whitten: So slide 45 seems to say there is something like specPred that takes a context as an input to differentiate finer meanings of the "pilot" relationship.

[12:48] David Whitten: I think it does make some sense but this needs to be a special adjective added to the word "context"

[12:48] JackRing: David, I am suggesting, for dialog, that Independence may be fiction.

[12:48] Bo Newman: Is the idea of a formal mathematical system for representing "meaning" with the scope of this track?

[12:49] MikeBennett: Things to cover in the track: OO

[12:49] JackRing: David, the connection link in hierarchy is called 'fiction.' In Ontologies hierarchy does not exist.

[12:50] MikeBennett: Dependent Thing omits Mediating Thing

[12:51] MikeBennett: JFS: There is always the question "Why is it Dependent - that's the Mediator! May include value judgments, intentionality, all sorts of other matter. Discussion on this ongoing.

[12:51] MikeBennett: Other comments: how to implement on the KR Relatives / Mediating Things

[12:51] MikeBennett: Get JFS to elaborate on this - simplify, add a dictionary. Session on this.

[12:52] Cory Casanave: I would find it interesting to compare/contrast concepts such as: Context, mediating things, state of affairs, situations, relations - all of which provide context to / mediate others.

[12:52] MikeBennett: Mathematical structure for representing multi-contextual meaning. Is that in scope of this track?

[12:52] MikeBennett: Yes. Assuming that there is some upper ontology component (common abstractions / partitions) for this.

[12:53] JackRing: One problem here is that Thing is not considered as having static and dynamic aspects, like Newton's notion of energy.

[12:53] MikeBennett: Bo Newman can present on this.

[12:54] Ram D. Sriram: We will need a case studies track if you want show relevance

[12:54] MikeBennett: Top down versus bottom up analysis - domain thinking versus upper ontologies.

[12:54] TerryLongstreth: Top down vs. holistic?

[12:54] Ram D. Sriram: I mean "want to show relevance"

[12:55] Jim Disbrow: Bo - yes and please keep me in the loop. Use of Mathematical Systems in Linguistics for this purpose is totally appropriate - and extends itself as a pathway for making sure "reflexive" operators are included.

[12:55] JackRing: Is multi-contextual meaning related to the notion of polymorphism in object technology?

[12:57] MikeBennett: Understanding the question of perspective (it is a mediating thing, not independent thing as claimed in today's slides). See Peirce. Need to explore and understand this better.

[12:58] MikeBennett: Generally, unpack Peirce on signs, vis a vis relatives and mediators. Also the Mayan stones.

[13:00] MikeBennett: Possible session: Peircean tryads versus tryads as a whole.

[13:01] JackRing: Should we be considering Derek Cabrera's DSRP, Distinctions, Systems, Relations and Perspective? Seem to me it brings useful 'onto' to this 'logo"

[13:01] MikeBennett: @jack sounds like something we should explore in this track

[13:02] Bo Newman: Jack - yes to some degree - potential is to resolve without loosing nuances from conflicting contexts

[13:03] Gary Berg-Cross: Coptic and Demotic are grammatically closely related to Late Egyptian, which was written with Egyptian hieroglyphs. Coptic flourished as a literary language from the second to thirteenth centuries, and its Bohairic dialect continues to be the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

[13:03] MikeBennett: So one possible session sounds like it can focus on semiotics and these partitions.

[13:03] Gary Berg-Cross: The repertoire of glyphs is based on the Greek alphabet augmented by letters borrowed from the Egyptian Demotic and is the first alphabetic script used for the Egyptian language.

[13:04] Bo Newman: BTW I refer to this system as the spCalc (substantive perspective Calculus)

[13:04] JackRing: Mike, I am sure it will illuminate this discourse.

[13:04] MikeBennett: This also relates to context and words (Mohenjo-Daro)

[13:05] David Whitten: Bo, is there a website with the mathematics you are discussing ?

[13:05] janet singer: Bo, are you familiar with Cabreras DSRP? It would be helpful to get your view relating that to your work.

[13:05] JackRing: Bo, Perhaps there are no conflicting contexts, only contexts honoring different Distinction.

[13:05] Bo Newman: Not yet -- this would be the first "public" appearance of it.

[13:05] Ram D. Sriram: @Mike: That was Mohenjo-Daro (see

[13:06] Cory Casanave: Have to go, have fun.

[13:06] Bo Newman: there is a url (

[13:06] Bo Newman: but not populated

[13:07] MikeBennett: Get more precision on Mediating Things versus when something else seems to be the context of something?

[13:07] JackRing: I suspect that the 'fractional calculus' of Dr. West, US Army Research Lab may be useful here. I will encourage him to join in.

[13:08] Bo Newman: for those interested in the spCalc please drop me a note at

[13:08] David Whitten: I was speaking of slide 34 when I asked: David Whitten: In the hierarchy of Contexts, what is the connective link called?

[13:08] MikeBennett: Implementations of this KR Lattice in different areas - can we find some?

[13:09] MikeBennett: Need to look at lots of specific cases - per the Pilot hierarchy. Biological v genetic v adopted mother.

[13:10] RaviSharma: Context is relevant for ontologies: 1 to select, search and preposition the appropriate ontologies in the context of IT solutions or applications and 2. an ontology describing and selecting relationships among things based on the type of context. Often we use words such a domain, subject areas in Data Models and ER diagrams, and overlapping terms across domains.

[13:10] MikeBennett: Here. Motherhood is the mediating context - different features of this for biological, raising etc. so there would be a more general, and more specific variants of this?

[13:10] RaviSharma: Jack Ring wants to speak

[13:12] MikeBennett: The mediating thing also includes e.g. navigators, ATC etc.

[13:12] MikeBennett: This is separate from terminological matters. Also analogies, and linguistic matters. Metaphors.

[13:13] AlexShkotin: Jack, just switch on your microphone.

[13:14] anonymous: Anyone want to demo actual impact of choice/design of upper level on end user application? e.g. show same application built twice with two different upper levels, one better than the other, and discuss differences? Would be a useful talk.

[13:14] MikeBennett: ^^^ Great idea!

[13:14] MikeBennett: What is v what does (Class v Type)

[13:14] Donna Fritzsche: biological motherhood vs social motherhood

[13:15] MikeBennett: Every entry in the ontology must treat both (all?) facets of the entry.

[13:16] MikeBennett: Terminology: one word has many meanings. How we solve that by describing the context or what?

[13:17] Gary Berg-Cross: @Jack your distinctions might imply different mediating roles for such concepts like motherhood vs social motherhood.

[13:17] David Whitten: If context disambiguates each word into many different distinct meanings (word senses), can we know that the context that disambiguates a different word into its word senses ?

[13:18] MikeBennett: Practical implementation: mapping between a data model and an ontology. Case study or examples on this?

[13:19] David Whitten: How would we know if each use of a word only maps to a common word sense, or does each use generate a new word sense ?

[13:19] MikeBennett: Is the periodic table an ontology?

[13:20] AlexShkotin: @Jack it's a DB:-)

[13:21] MikeBennett: Periodic Table as an example - the taxonomy is useful because it reflects a good underlying ontology.

[13:21] Ram D. Sriram: Periodic table provides a structure to extract an ontology.

[13:21] BobbinTeegarden: periodic table: some of the ontology is 'implied' (position in grid...)

[13:21] Gary Berg-Cross: What about the idea of classes, instances and relations?

[13:22] Gary Berg-Cross: Is it relevant to ask, "what is the ontology/rep language of the Periodic table?"

[13:22] MikeBennett: Similarly ontology of mathematics.

[13:22] MikeBennett: 4 ideas that unify all of mathematics. Available later.

[13:22] David Whitten: The periodic table may only be a taxonomy. There doesn't seem to be a hierarchy there.

[13:22] Jim Disbrow: If all aspects of the "copula" were to be removed (e.g., derivatives of the verb "to be" in English) from ontologies (i.e., "is" and "isa"), operators connect the subject and object and establish their relationship (i.e., becomes the linguistic connector-verb giving meaning to the relationship).

[13:22] MikeBennett: What to do next week?

[13:23] AlexShkotin: @Jack is it possible to share the math with whole forum?

[13:24] MikeBennett: Can we get some of the folks who spoke about linguistic matters today, to present or organize that. Linguistic context was one of the 4 kinds of contexts that Pat Hayes identified.

[13:24] RaviSharma: linguistic context session speaker to be determined

[13:24] MikeBennett: Q: Should we talk about linguistic contexts in this summit?

[13:25] MikeBennett: The sense of the call seems to be Yes.

[13:25] RaviSharma: For Mike: did you cover your slides in early pat of session?

[13:25] MikeBennett: Would John be able to do something on this? Yes but it's a big topic.

[13:25] MikeBennett: Invite someone from TC37?

[13:26] Jim Disbrow: I'd say "yes"

[13:26] MikeBennett: @Ravi I did

[13:26] David Whitten: John Sowa might be able to give a talk about linguistics and context. He replied that it looks like a shallow swamp but you quickly drown in it.

[13:26] MikeBennett: Who do we know well who could take this on and direct the conversation?

[13:27] MikeBennett: John Sowa can do this.

[13:27] JackRing: Alex, et al, I have sent Prof. Rao's charts to Ken Baclawski

[13:27] MikeBennett: Next layer above this in abstraction - the meaning of symbols. Versus symbol-agnostic form of analysis (some representation not necessarily a symbol, but something you are trying to ascribe meaning to)?

[13:28] David Whitten: I hope Bo will talk about his ideas on one of these talks.

[13:29] Ram D. Sriram: Any thoughts on research on how the human brain uses context?

[13:29] AlexShkotin: @Jack great. I'll ask him on Google-group.

[13:29] RaviSharma: @John - can we not parse things such as NLP Entity Extraction and then use of Entities in ontologies so we can stay focused on specific aspects of language and ontology contexts?

[13:29] David Whitten: I think that this has been a fabulous talk.

[13:29] MikeBennett: Thank you!

[13:30] Bo Newman: Sorry, I need to drop for another meeting

[13:30] Gary Berg-Cross: have to go...

[13:30] RaviSharma: yes John

[13:31] RaviSharma: the speakers need to have knowledge of the context

[13:31] RaviSharma: and where we are

[13:32] Donna Fritzsche: thank-you and very interesting!

[13:32] AlexShkotin: C U

[13:32] RaviSharma: thanks Mike, John and other participants, this was good.


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