Re: Knowledge Databases LO1935

John O'Neill (
Wed, 5 Jul 95 15:33:32 +1000

Replying to LO1927 --


>To expand on these thoughts, I would suggest that it is possible to
represent these integrated interconnected patterns through such constructs
as networks of connected acyclical graphs. In doing so it would be
important to insure that the model is fully dynamic and not dependent on a
priori definitions of the knowledge structure, and second that it be
domain and language neutral. In addition, it is should be possible to
link such a model/representation to knowledge utilization events through
applicable business processes to cause actions or, to reflect changes
resulting from these actions in the knowledge network.

>Phillip opened his remarks saying that thinking about knowledge as
something that can be captured in a "knowledge base" seems to be the
antithesis of systems thinking. I would ask that if a system of knowledge
representation did in fact support knowledge definition through relational
integration and contextualization, could it not serve as a tool useable in
the scientific study of how people interact with knowledge?

>In Jim Michmerhuizen's reply (Knowledge Databases LO1903) he pointed out
that there are deep logical incoherencies in the notion of using current
[relational] database technology to support a "knowledge" database and
that it is logically impossible, in such a structure, to represent
emergent knowledge. I whole heartedly agree, but it is my suspicion that
a hybrid of object orientated representation and context sensitive
predictive agents could.

>Recently, I have had the privilege of working with some folks who have
imbedded mnay of these features in working software and I have been very
impressed. They have even be able to address the contextualization issue
by including definable context based subsetting rules in the generation of
user specific views of the knowledge. To date they have not be able to
demonstrate the recogition of emergent knowledge but I can't help but
think that it is only a matter of time. <

--- end of quote from LO1927 ---

This gels quite strongly with the PhD research I'm currently doing. My
research started by recognising that people change, groups change,
organisations change and situations change. I then moved into the area of
viewing the use and construction of knowledge as a social activity. None
of these features are currently characteristics of any information systems

As pointed out above, knowledge is context dependent, and all the features
I've described above require context. The only mechanisms I've found for
representing context so far is R.V. Guha's PhD work on microtheories. A
microtheory is a theory that is locally consistent, but may be globally

I'm intrigued by your last paragraph where you state that you've worked
with people who have built some of these features into working software.
Could you please point me towards references or provide more detail as to
what they've done and how they've done it?

I look forward to continuing this interesting dialogue

John O'Neill
DSTO C3 Research Centre, Australia