Re: Start of the #ontology sub-group #ontology

Brandon Kuczenski

Let me weigh in on the input / output question. In my view, a flow is not an input or an output- it has to be both. It has to be an output from the process that created it and an input from the process that consumed it. The flow is the same in both cases; therefore it is an error to call it one or the other.

I haven't seen the term 'exchange' used very much but in my view, a flow is simply a product/substance/material/service and a quantity of measurement (say, 'mass'). (this has to be fixed in order for the use of many different databases to be stable). I think of an exchange as a 4-tuple: an activity that defines the exchange (which I call the parent), a flow that is being exchanged, a direction with respect to the parent, and a termination, which is the other activity (or compartment or stock or market) that is the partner to the exchange. If the termination is null, then it's a cutoff flow- auditing these flows is part of reviewing a model.

This view is pretty consistent with your discussion about "Who is this 10 kg of coal associated with?"

A characteristic of this definition is that it is non-numeric, i.e. there is no quantitative information- only adjacency. This helps to define the model without getting hung up on what the exchange value or uncertainty is. Obviously there could be uncertainty in the termination - from where / what supplier / what time of day / etc? but that is not quantitative uncertainty.

When the parent activity is invoked as part of a query, it would be "responsible" for "figuring out" the exchange value given the query it is answering, and the termination could / would have to be figured out by the software that is doing the query. But it's the exchange that is directional, not the flow.

I will try to make the call on Friday but I'm not sure what time it is.


Brandon Kuczenski, Ph.D.
Associate Researcher

University of California at Santa Barbara
Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131

email: bkuczenski@...

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