Re: pun in ontolingua KB

Danny Bobrow <>
Message-id: <>
Date: 	Tue, 21 Jun 1994 17:29:21 PDT
From: Danny Bobrow <>
To: "Benjamin J. Kuipers" <>, gruber@HPP.Stanford.EDU
Subject: Re: pun in ontolingua KB
Cc: ontolingua@HPP.Stanford.EDU,
In-reply-to: <9406202144.AA04078@hpp-ssc-1.Stanford.EDU.ksl>
References: <9406202144.AA04078@hpp-ssc-1.Stanford.EDU.ksl>
Precedence: bulk
The excerpt below points out a problem of making do with a flat name
space in conjunction with free text in which a lot of burden is put on
the reader to disambiguate.  Couldn't we make this ambiguity more
noticable, and resolvable by providing a special field associated with
an ontological concept that gives a set of commonly used English words
for the concept.  Then the automatic indexer could provide users the
choice of where to go when the indexing is done from free text?

Excerpts from mail: 20-Jun-94 RE: pun in ontolingua KB Tom
Gruber@hpp.stanford. (3337)

> Ben Kuipers wrote (to the ontolingua list):

> > While browsing in the automatically-generated network of Ontolingua
> > html files, I was reading the theory for Physical-Quantities, and
> > discovered that the pointer for "length" goes not to the
> > physical-dimension length, but to the length-of-list function and its
> > recursive definition.

> The example is from the documentation string on the theory called
> physical-quantities, URL
> es/physical-quantities.html

> This is the nature of a flat namespace and a context-free syntax.  The term
> spelled "LENGTH" was defined by the KIF spec to mean length-of-list.  For that
> reason, I used the spelling "LENGTH-DIMENSION" for the physical dimension
> length.  The pointer Ben found was in free floating natural language text,
> which depends on the context and the reader's background knowledge for
> interpretation.  Ontolingua indexes both the formal axioms and the
> documentation strings.  For the strings, Ontolingua used a purely syntactic
> heuristic for deciding which tokens to link to formal definitions; the
> sequence of characters "length" that occured in the documentation string for
> the theory physical quantities was parsed as a token (because it was
> surrounded by whitespace) and matched the lexical form of the LENGTH (of list)
> function (ignoring case).  So ontolingua linked it to the formal definitions
> of the LENGTH function.