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Session Narrative
Duration 1 hour
Date/Time Mar 13 2019 16:00 GMT
9:00am PDT/12:00pm EDT
4:00pm GMT/5:00pm CET
Convener Donna Fritzsche and Mark Underwood

Ontology Summit 2019 Narrative Session 2


Conference Call Information

  • Date: Wednesday, 13-March-2019
  • Start Time: 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EDT / 5:00pm CET / 4:00pm GMT / 1600 UTC
  • Note that the US will be changing to summer/daylight time this coming weekend, so the session will be an hour earlier than usual in Europe.
  • Expected Call Duration: 1 hour
  • The Video Conference URL is
    • iPhone one-tap :
      • US: +16699006833,,689971575# or +16465588665,,689971575#
    • Telephone:
      • Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8665
      • Meeting ID: 689 971 575
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  • Chat Room



[12:15] Ram D. Sriram: There is a lot of work done on documenting "rationale" (e.g., design rationale [I worked on this in the early 1990s]). How is this work related to Explanations?

[12:22] Ken Baclawski: The slides are available at

[12:26] Ken Baclawski: Here is long link to the slides:

[12:35] Mark Underwood: Ilaria, that Tim Miller reference on your last slide is one we also found useful

[12:42] Ken Baclawski: Dennis' slides are at

[12:45] Mark Underwood: Ilaria. This group may interested in the way "success" is measured... Acceptability threshold for GDPR explanations, for instance

[12:51] ToddSchneider: Dennis, Are there natural language definitions for each entity in the ontology?

[12:51] John Sowa: I like the example of the many ways of describing the Acropolis

[12:51] Mark Underwood: Dennis ... Do artifact manager/curators use Arches to standardize the way the annotate/tag/narrate objects in, for instance, exhibits

[12:52] John Sowa: It shows that a tree is inadequate to specify an ontology.

[12:52] ToddSchneider: Does 'Arches' use a reasoner? Or is it just a property graph?

[12:53] John Sowa: There is rarely a case where one parent is sufficient to describe something.

[12:54] RaviSharma: I can see demo on site:

[12:54] John Sowa: More general lattices are necessary to support arbitrary cross references,

[12:54] ToddSchneider: Ilaria, did one of the slides you showed include an image of your 'small' ontology?

[12:58] RaviSharma: Dennis - while your demo shows what actions can you take to limit or carryout detailed analysis of say terrain or buildings, but the downloads are only for developers, what is the link for understanding Linked Open data to the GUI for the tool.

[13:03] John Sowa: Todd, NL descriptions are essential -- because the people who enter and use the data will *never* read the formal definitions.

[13:03] John Sowa: For all practical purposes, the NL definitions *are* the only relevant definitions.

[13:03] ToddSchneider: John, Exactly. Hence my question.

[13:04] ToddSchneider: John, The natural language definitions are relevant, important, critical(?) for humans.

[13:05] John Sowa: I am not denying the importance of logic, but it's essential to be clear about how the logic, the software, and the people are interrelated.

[13:07] Ilaria: Todd - yes, it is briefly shown in slide 5, but you can also see it here : (I also have the .owl file if needed)

[13:10] ToddSchneider: Ilaria, Thank you.

[13:15] janet singer: John, Todd Is it that the simple natural vs formal distinction is more harmful than helpful? Better to distinguish informal, semi-formal, and formal variants of languages (all of them being natural)?

[13:16] ToddSchneider: Janet, I don't understand the questions. Natural language definitions are a starting point.

[13:19] janet singer: Todd, Is natural language for you the same as ordinary language?

[13:20] ToddSchneider: Janet, I'm not sure. Currently, I'm using (a textual) natural language to communicate (with you). But as suggested in Ilaria, there are other types of 'languages'.

[13:23] ToddSchneider: Whether using a natural language or a formal language there is still the aspect/problem/process of interpretation and agreement on interpretation(s).

[13:25] janet singer: Are you referring to Ilaria's distinction of visual, written, spoken languages (any other?) That seems like distinctions of medium rather than naturalness vs formality (which could have those medium distinctions as well)

[13:26] Mark Underwood: Thanks to the speakers. I must attend another meeting. Fun stuff

[13:28] John Sowa: Janet, physical reality is far more complex than language or logic,

[13:29] ToddSchneider: Janet, I'll let John respond to whether visual, written, or spoken languages are 'mediums' or not

[13:29] janet singer: Formal is ambiguous as well. I think the documentation says BFO qualifies as formal because it is intended to be domain invariant ?

[Added later] KenBaclawski: According to "Building Ontologies with Basic Formal Ontology" by Robert Arp, Barry Smith and Andrew D. Spear, a "formal ontology" is the same as "top-level ontology". On page 40, they distinguish three "meanings" of ontology: philosophical ontology, material or domain ontology, and formal or top-level ontology.

[13:31] ToddSchneider: The notion of 'formal ontology' is not well defined (i.e., there are multiple definitions).

[13:32] ToddSchneider: Have to go. Thank you Ilaria, Dennis, Mark.

[13:33] janet singer: John Completely agree. My point is that the usual natural language vs formal language distinction is not well defined!

[13:34] John Sowa: Janet, as you know, I consider BFO to be a toy.

[13:34] John Sowa: Cyc has over 1000 person years of development.

[13:35] John Sowa: But even Cyc couldn't begin to deal with virtual reality.

[13:37] TerryLongstreth: Ravi, I'm inclined to agree that learning is an important tool for creating driverless cars, and in the digital world has an advantage because knowledge transfer is for all practical purposes complete from the initial learner to all others.

[13:38] TerryLongstreth: But learning (creating 'muscle memory') doesn't help much in anticipating environments beyond those originally used for the learning (or training).

[13:39] janet singer: There's a mismatch between the open physical world being permissive and a constrained technical world being restrictive

[13:39] TerryLongstreth: Like, for example, a deflated football

[13:41] RaviSharma: great comment Janet

[13:41] John Sowa: Terry, a good quarterback could quickly learn how to adjust to a deflated football.

[13:42] AlexShkotin: need to go. thank you all.

[13:42] John Sowa: A few exercises with the football would be far more useful than an ontology.

[13:45] TerryLongstreth: Thanks John. Those are the points I was trying to make, with the proviso that the environment change can be anticipated and practiced before need.


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