2018-04-18 The Possibility of a Shared Ontology

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As has been discussed several times there seems to be agreement that we can't expect a single, shared ontology for complex domains or across many domains.

But yes we need shared conceptualizations first as part of this "mutual understanding".

We might start by agreeing on some of the lower-hanging problems involved such as the sub-set of spatial–temporal dynamics of systems...or what we understand by "sustainable systems." It seems to involve some interactions between natura, technical and social systems, and with how those interactions affect the challenge of system operation over time. This group may be focused on application systems and supporting socio-tech issues.

Ref: PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 2010. Sustainability science section of website and [1]

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Comment from Jack Ring:

Thank you for seeking to clarify this situation. Pls consider this example and tell us how to express our need in better terms. When talking about a system one person may refer to ‘endogenous' and ‘exogenous' attributes while another person may refer to ‘Class’ and ‘Type' and yet a third may use ‘property' and ‘characteristic,' essentially three sets of synonyms. However the three persons do not necessarily realize these are synonyms so talk past one another. So we are asking ontologists to show us how to handle synonyms so that the ontology can serve diverse members of a system engineering project. This is not simple. Besides synonyms there are perhaps 38 other kinds of ‘-nyms’ in the world’s languages. Make sense? The similar situation exists regarding isomorphs of system models. Help!

Gary – Good elaboration of what could seen as the ‘canonical issues of ontology development’ for real (evolving, complex, heterogeneous, etc.) systems:

1) There are always limits on how much model standardization is feasible and desirable; 2) In hindsight, significant failures can often be traced to lack of standardization in areas where it would have been feasible and desirable; 3) How do you know in advance where those areas will be?

Jack and I have been hoping that this would take shape as an important focus for the context of ontology development and use. Your thoughts on how to proceed are helpful.

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