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Wednesday, November 09, 2005



Outline of Work to be done on

Learning Theory and the Core Liberal Arts Curriculum


Part Six


On the relationships between information science and ontology





There is a history to the use of the word “ontology” to refer to a machine encoding of a representation of human knowledge.  Certainly the first work on computer based machine translation (late 1940s at Georgetown University) should be mentioned since the translation dictionary was sometimes referred to an “an ontology”. Not all of the workers on this project were happy with this use of term.  John Sowa wrote a book on cognitive graphs, and this book (1984) seems to be a foundational one for ontology standards that were to develop at four or five academic centers, with funding by the government.  KIF (Knowledge Interchange Format) soon gave rise to RDF (Resource Description Framework) and now OWL.  But the really interesting work is now in Topic Maps. 


The scholarship on this history can not be made simple or treated in a few paragraphs.  My interest is in reminding the reader, my reader, that this work is very difficult largely for two reasons.  The first is that the science is not completed on what is human knowledge and why there is a difference between data or information and “knowledge” as experienced by humans.  


The second is a backward looking information technology discipline (entrenched in many universities).  As one of the faculty here said to me in a discussion today, “The computer information science curriculum seems to ignore the human in the loop requirement”.  This condition is a critical one and one that has to be directly addressed. 


The curriculum that I am proposing has to be proposed to the entire faculty and discussions about the role of computer science, information theory and mathematics opened as a legitimate discussion.  The approach that I am revealing has had some testing, and there is firm grounding in behavioral science for the assumptions I make about Acquired Learning Disability.