[tdwg-tag] Institutions are People if they own a Collection

Jonathan Rees jar at creativecommons.org
Sun Oct 18 16:38:06 CEST 2009

On Sun, Oct 18, 2009 at 10:02 AM, Roger Hyam <rogerhyam at mac.com> wrote:
> Hi Bob,
> This is why I believe we should not make assertions in the core
> ontology about range and domain of properties.
> If some one wants to import these notions (terms) then they are forced
> to also import our (possibly flawed) world view.
> If we were to create a perfect model of the reality of the
> biodiversity informatics domain in OWL (or XML Schema or UML or
> alphabetti spaghetti) due to Hyam's unoriginal law* it would be wrong
> next week or certainly by the next TDWG meeting.

There is a different view, adopted by many ontology projects: You do
the best you can, and then if you find a mistake in the ontology, you
fix it.

Without guidance such as domain and range, you increase the
probability that curation will be inconsistent across projects. And
inconsistency makes data integration harder down the road, pushing
work that ought to be done once, at curation time, off onto hapless
consumers, each of whom has to do cleaning and normalization

The ontology is a significant point of leverage and it would be a
shame not to use it.

The OWL reasoners are really helpful at findings bugs like this one.
Public review helps too, as we have just seen.

If someone wants to ignore domain, range, subclass, etc. because
they're afraid they contain mistakes, that's pretty easy to do. If
someone wants to know how to use the ontology consistently with how
others are using it, that's hard to do, if the information they need
isn't in the ontology.

Jonathan Rees
Science Commons

> This is why we should perhaps  have a list of terms (bound to URIs)
> and a separate set of models that are used for particular occasions.
> Ultimately the semantics of the data is governed by the query that is
> being asked i.e. it is context sensitive. "Give that XYZ, what are the
> ABC?"
> * Hyam's unoriginal law states "The future is different - that is how
> we tell it isn't the present."
> Hope this helps,
> Roger
> On 17 Oct 2009, at 22:45, Bob Morris wrote:
>> http://rs.tdwg.org/ontology/voc/Collection.rdf#hasOwner
>> specifies two classes in its range: Person and Institution,
>> The formal semantics of rdfs:range entails that the actual range of
>> an object property is the intersection of the named rdfs:range
>> classes.
>> I believe this all entails that the only owner of a Collection is
>> something that is both a Person and an Institution.
>> Also, since these classes are not(?) defined as disjoint, the result
>> is that any set of triples
>>   Roger rdfs:type Person
>>   C hasOwner Roger
>> turns Roger into an Institution
>> Likewise
>>   Kew rdfs:type Institution
>>   C hasOwner Kew
>> turns Kew into a Person
>> I could be wrong about all this, perhaps unless I too am an
>> Institution, since, in my experience, Institutions rarely admit to
>> being wrong. (Uh, oh, better not go there... :-)  )
>> Bob Morris
>> p.s.
>> This also suggests that the stylesheet human.xsl is somewhat
>> recalcitrant, since the html rendering of
>> http://rs.tdwg.org/ontology/voc/Collection.rdf only sees Institution
>> as the range of hasOwner
>> --
>> Robert A. Morris
>> Professor of Computer Science (nominally retired)
>> UMASS-Boston
>> 100 Morrissey Blvd
>> Boston, MA 02125-3390
>> Associate, Harvard University Herberia
>> email: ram at cs.umb.edu
>> web: http://bdei.cs.umb.edu/
>> web: http://etaxonomy.org/FilteredPush
>> http://www.cs.umb.edu/~ram
>> phone (+1)617 287 6466
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