On the definition of "ontology"

"Nicola Guarino" <guarino@ladseb.pd.cnr.it>
Message-id: <guarino.1163133817D@>
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 95 19:49:37 +0100
From: "Nicola Guarino" <guarino@ladseb.pd.cnr.it>
Subject: On the definition of "ontology"
To: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@ai.uiuc.edu>, mudcat@ie.utoronto.ca
Cc: srkb@cs.umbc.edu
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Answering to Michael Gruninger, Pat Hayes writes:

>Thanks for providing your definition of 'Ontology'. However, when looking
>at it, Im at a loss to understand what it has to do with AI, even applied
>AI. The glossary to which you refer us
>(http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/WfMC/DOCS/glossary.html) doesn't seem to be an
>application of AI to anything: it uses no formalism or ideas from AI, and
>it is not geared to the construction of any programs or systems which might
>exhibit any cognitive abilities. Just to read it requires proficiency in
>English, and to understand it probably requires prior knowledge of the what
>the authors are talking about, so its not a knowledge representation in the
>AI sense. (It makes free use of such terms as 'thread of control' without
>defining them anywhere, for example.)
>Of course, one is pleased to learn that business people are trying to be
>more careful in the ways they communicate with one another, but what has
>this to do with our subject?

I agree with Pat. Of course such a glossary may have a great value, but in
order to be considered as an "ontology" in the AI sense, it should be much
more than

[Michael Gruninger]

>a coherent characterisation of a domain with the terms and their
>inter-relationships carefully considered and defined.

I would now propose YET ANOTHER definition of an ontology, slightly
different (in the form, but not in the content) from that discussed in the
paper "Ontologies and Knowledge Bases: Towards a Terminological
Clarification", accessible on the web site reported below:

"An ontology is a specification of the indended models of a logical language".

Comments? [Be patient for my answers...]

-- Nicola


Nicola Guarino
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