Part 6: Definitions are even more important than terms are

In recent posts, we stated that while terms are less important than concepts, and they mean nothing from a formal semantics perspective, they are very important for socializing the ontology. The same is true for text definitions, but even more so. Just like terms, the text definitions and any other comments have zero impact on the inferences that will be sanctioned by the ontology axioms. However, from the perspective of communicating meaning (i.e. semantics) to a human being, they play a very important role. Many of the people that want to understand the enterprise ontology to will mainly be looking at the terms and the text definitions, and never see the axioms. Text definitions help the human get a better idea of the intended semantics for a term, even for those that choose to view the axioms as well. For those interested in the axioms, the text helps clarify the meaning and makes it possible to spot errors in the axioms. For example, the text may imply something that conflicts with or is very different from with what the axioms say. The text definitions also say things that are too difficult or are unnecessary to say formally with axioms. Other comments that are not definitions, but that should be included in the ontology include: examples and counter examples, things that are true about a concept, but that are not part of defining it. Collectively all this informal text that is hidden from the inference engine contributes greatly to human understanding of the ontology, which is on the critical path to putting the ontology to use.

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