Thursday, April 17, 2014

'O' is for ontology.

'O' is for Ontology.

What is an ontology? A knowledge-base? Sure, if that's simpler to grasp, but only insofar as 'knowledge-base' doesn't mean 'collection of facts' or 'data set.'

An ontology is more than that. But what, precisely, is an ontology?

Well, actually, there is a precise meaning to 'ontology.' And 'meaning,' itself, is central to ontology. Because what does these data mean is what an ontology is about. It's not a listing of facts, but it's also the relationship of the facts in the ontology that makes it what it is. The data, the facts, of an ontology have meaning, not only intrinsically, but also explicitly, or: the meaning is useable, or can be processed, itself, as information, and used in the handling of the underlying information.



An ontology? Absolutely! You hand that to your husband, and he knows exactly what it is and he knows exactly how to use it. He even, helpfully, penciled in the missing item (ho-hos, just as a 'fer instance') onto your shopping list for you.


Now, ontology, per se?  Not so much. But if you explicitly titled it "Shopping List," now you're talking!

Format it as XML or JSON or OWL and then your computer will do your shopping for you, just as well as your husband would.

Even better, as it won't add those pesky ho-hos your husband always 'helpfully' adds to your list for you.

Your computer does need arms and legs and artificial intelligence, but I'm sure Cyberdyne Systems will be happy to help you there ... and also hand your terminator that was a computer a fully automatic plasma rifle.

Whoopsie! Better give your husband the list, and live with the ho-hos ... Ho-hos are, relatively speaking, better than global thermonuclear war and the extinction of all mankind.

But I digress.

As always.

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