Call for contributions
roy at cacr.caltech.edu
Wed Sep 28 11:10:19 PDT 2005
Thank you for your effort to restart the injection of ontology and
other knowledge engineering into the VO.
I see various ways to extend the UCD concept. For example by extending
scope, so that a UCD is not just a "semantic type" of a parameter or
table column, but we could make new UCDs for describing service input
parameters, types of astronomical object, transitions that can happen
to those objects, etc etc. I think namespaces are critical.
There are other projects that are possible: building an ontology,
thesaurus, glossary, et etc. But the same malaise seems to strike all
the semantics efforts together: there is a great intellectual effort in
representing knowledge, but little emphasis on a fundamental question:
WHAT ARE HOPING TO ACHIEVE? What is needed is not grand plans for the
far future, but rather a small application or demo -- it can be very
limited in scope -- so that Jo Astronomer is interested, impressed, and
perhaps surprised when she sees it. What is NOT needed -- in my opinion
-- is a complicated and formal descriptive apparatus that has no
immediate objective or application.
Something that might fit this bill is the Textpresso system
(http://www.textpresso.org/). It is made by biologists here at Caltech,
and sets out to be a better literature search than Google, at least in
its restricted domain. Textpresso builds a knowledge base from
automated processing of scientific literature, that can answer quite
specific queries about its subfield, in this case genetics of a small
worm called C. Elegans. For example "In what cells is the gene eat-4
expressed". The astronomy version might be able to tackle such queries
as finding "polarized radio observations of Sharpless 171", and be much
better at it than Google.
California Institute of Technology
626 395 3670
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