Featured Abstract: March 14

Check in frequently this week to view featured abstracts, leading up to the symposium! We welcome your comments.

Featured Abstract: “Taking Modeling Seriously”

Allen Renear, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

There are many kinds of modeling. I am concerned here with the sort of
modeling that emphasizes theoretical or epistemic objectives, modeling,
that this, that purports to provide an account of how things are in a
domain of interest.   The demands of this sort of modeling are exacting –
and not to everyone’s taste. But the rewards in insight and understanding
are worth the effort. This sort of modeling may sound like straightforward
philosophical ontology development, and of the usual naïve and realistic
sort. Perhaps in a sense it is. However my focus throughout will not be on
self-declared ontologies or ontology design, but rather on examples that
have more practical objectives (such as systems design) and are typically
carried out in familiar graphic conceptual modeling languages, such as
entity relationship diagrams and UML class diagrams. It is these ordinary
modeling efforts I will be taking seriously, and in doing that I will be
thereby doing some serious modeling of my own. In my experience the
stresses and paradoxes latent in familiar unpretentious conceptual
modeling give us a natural manageable start in thinking through some of
the hardest problems in developing a formal understanding of cultural
objects and relationships. In the end however I will argue, as you
probably suspect, that taking modeling seriously requires specific
logic-based formal methods. Serious modeling takes modeling more seriously
than it takes itself.

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