Ontology

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Full Title or Meme

The branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being in the Abstract[1] aka a specification of a conceptualization of reality.

Context

  • Whereas the origin of the word was used for the discussion of the essence of things in the real world, in computer science it is used for a collection of abstract ideas in any specific domain.
  • There is no obvious distinction between an Ontology and a [[Category|Categorization].
  • Some in the field confuse these terms, but convergence on the real meaning is not likely:
    • Data Dictionary - mostly used by data base architects.
    • Data Model - defines a schema for a data dictionary.
    • Taxonomy - used to categorize objects into distinct taxa.
    • Ontology - used to add significance to a data dictionary.

Problems

  • Most of Philosophy is arguing about the meaning and use of words. The idea that there will be a single ontology of any domain in computer science is absurd, which doesn't deter anyone from creating new ones all the time.

References

  1. W W Skeat, Entomological Dictionary of the English Language Oxford (1879)