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W. E. Perry wrote:
> To be candid, there is nothing surprising here if we understand what a
> label is, and that it is in fact a direct consequence of first
> principles that labels are the required input to processes which
> elaborate semantic outcomes, but typing of any sort is not. Quite
> simply, what datatype something 'is' is a corollary of that something
> being manipulated as of that type by a process. Type--and not just
> datatype--as opposed to labelling, inheres in process and not in the
> text or data submitted to processing.
Apropos to this discussion, from the OWL Guide
One question that comes up when describing yet another XML/Web standard is
"What does [an ontology] buy me that XML and XML Schema don't?" There are
two answers to this question.
a.. An ontology differs from an XML schema in that it is a knowledge
representation, not a message format. Most industry based Web standards
consist of a combination of message formats and protocol specifications.
These formats have been given an operational semantics, such as, "Upon
receipt of this PurchaseOrder message, transfer Amount dollars from
AccountFrom to AccountTo and ship Product." But the specification is not
designed to support reasoning outside the transaction context. For example,
we won't in general have a mechanism to conclude that because the Product is
a type of Chardonnay it must also be a white wine.
The term "Semantics" can mean different things to different people, and
consequently using the description "Semantic Markup" has a great danger of
being meaningless point for crisp discussion. Indeed I'd never considered
ASN.1 as having anything to do with "Semantic Markup", rather a mechanism to
define "abstract syntax".
> Interoperability, which to the
> extent that term is properly used to signify the transmission of real
> semantics, or meaning, is the essence of communication.
Precisely. Understanding that Chardonnay is a type of White Wine is pretty
basic example of the sorts of tasks that we expect intelligent people to do
on a daily basis. Trying to teach a computer to automate some of this work
has been surprisingly difficult, but is an example of something that the
"ontology technology" has largely succeeded in doing. What OWL is, is an
_interoperable_ language for specifying ontologies that achieved some not
insignificant degree of buy in from various communities that already use
ontologies on a daily basis.
If folks think that ontologies are some sort of fringe, AI, pie in the sky
sort of technology, consider that classification is perhaps the essence of
fields including healthcare and library science. If we consider things like
"classification of people" and a subclass called "terrorist" then we can
imagine that this has recently become a multi-billion dollar industry --
aside from healthcare..