Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Curing Today's Ignorance

The Philosophy of Being...Ignorant - from OverheardInNewYork
Guy: Do you know what the word "ontological" means?
Chick: Yeah...I have seen it before...
Guy: Yeah. Me too.
Chick: Is it like an orange?
Guy: Yeah...Well, it's something weird like that.
Chick: I know what you mean.
--Hungarian Pastry Shop, Amsterdam Avenue
Overheard by: Marie Favorita

OK, I had to admit that I too wasn't sure what the word meant. My first thought was to confuse Ontology with Oncology, but I knew that wasn't right. Hence a trip to The Dictionary
which says:
on·col·o·gy = The branch of medicine that deals with tumors, including study of their development, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

on·tol·o·gy = The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being. More on that here. Now aren't you glad I asked? OK, OK, back to work. Nothing to see here. Move along.


AndyT13 said...

An ontology is an explicit specification of a conceptualization. The term is borrowed from philosophy, where an Ontology is a systematic account of Existence. For AI systems, what "exists" is that which can be represented. When the knowledge of a domain is represented in a declarative formalism, the set of objects that can be represented is called the universe of discourse. This set of objects, and the describable relationships among them, are reflected in the representational vocabulary with which a knowledge-based program represents knowledge. Thus, in the context of AI, we can describe the ontology of a program by defining a set of representational terms. In such an ontology, definitions associate the names of entities in the universe of discourse (e.g., classes, relations, functions, or other objects) with human-readable text describing what the names mean, and formal axioms that constrain the interpretation and well-formed use of these terms. Formally, an ontology is the statement of a logical theory.
How's that?

Lori Stewart Weidert said...

Orange you glad you looked it up?

AndyT13 said...

Hahahaha! Yes I'm very glad I looked it up. I'll never forget the day in grade school when a kid said to me "You probably read the dictionary and learn a new word every day!" He meant it as an insult. I laughed in his face and said "Of course I do!" I'm still proud of that actually. :-)

ZooooM said...

ooooo! See, I always felt like I knew what oncology was, but if you had asked me to give it a text book definition? Not even close. I'd never heard of ontology! That's very cool! Thanks for the new word and the proper definition on an old word!