A comment by Stephen M. Richard about
Language (definition #5 at http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary): a formal system of signs and symbols (as FORTRAN or a calculus in logic) including rules for the formation and transformation of admissible expressions. Since the mandate for this technical team is to develop standardized nomenclature, we are working on the semantics, not the syntax of science language. The mandate for the technical team is to develop standardized nomenclature for description of the following things: 1. geologic map units 2. linear geologic features 3. point geologic features 4. spatial relationships among geologic map units, linear features and point features 5. geologic relationships among geologic map units, linear features and point features This is a much broader mandate than developing a lithologic classification. My reading of the mandate is that we are to produce what is being called an ontology in the knowledge engineering/artifical intelligence community (see links at http://ksl-web.stanford.edu/kst/ontology-sources.html). In engineering lingo, “an ontology is a description (like a formal specification of a program) of the concepts and relationships that can exist for an agent or a community of agents” (Tom Gruber, http://ksl-web.stanford.edu/kst/what-is-an-ontology.html). I suggest as an approach to the problem, we do something like the following: 1. Each of us study several geologic maps we have made or use for are particular field of interest, and extract the terms used in the description of the things listed in the mandate. 2. Compile the words into a single list, perhaps ranking priority in terms of how many times the word appears on the separate lists 3. Assign subsets of the list to committee members to produce definitions. 4. Review the definitions to assure that all terms used in the definitions are also defined The definitions must specify necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of each term. A necessary condition specifies the things that may be assumed true of any object or situation to which the term is applied. A sufficient condition specifies the minimum conditions required before the term can be applied to an object or situation. There will be a set of fundamental concepts that are not amenable to necessary and sufficient definitions; these will overlap with existing base ontologies that we can use as a foundation. The product will be a formal system of terminology in which every term has a precise definition. Some terms, like mineral names, probably already have necessary and sufficient definitions. By producing the word list by inspection of maps, we can probably focus our effort on a set of words that are actually used.
Further discussion of Suggestion for approach to our mandate (this page):
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