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1 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Philosophy-based mechanisms of communication between business and IT stakeholders Haim Kilov, haimk@acm.org Ira Sack, isack@stevens.edu

2 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Communication gap between business and IT experts: syntactic “We need to understand the domain before addressing software. … Business models are the basis of an organization’s entire activity. They are to be understood by CEO and CFO, not just by CIO; and therefore explained without ‘method calls will have an XML representation’.” Stu Feldman, VP — Internet Technology, IBM Business and IT domains are different!

3 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Communication gap between business and IT experts: semantic “...when the Marines are ordered to ‘ secure a building ’, they form a landing party and assault it. The same instructions will lead the Army to occupy the building with a troop of infantry, and the Navy will characteristically respond by sending a yeoman to assure that the building lights are turned out. When the Air Force acts on these instructions, what results is a ‘three year lease with option to purchase’…” Attributed to James Schlesinger, from Forbes

4 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Some specifications are usable Precise and explicit Precision without programming No guessing over ambiguities and tacit assumptions Precise is not the same as detailed Simple and concise Not a burden to read Avoid Too Much Stuff by separating concerns (abstraction) Problem vs. Solution –Example: a person vs. a record of that person Business vs. System –Example: business rules vs. TLAs used to handle them Stable vs. Volatile Top-level vs. More Detailed

5 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu To get from here to there, we need roadmaps — domain specifications (a.k.a. ontologies) They should use the same system of basic constructs for all (very different) kinds of specifications Such as business and IT specifications So that business and IT stakeholders could talk to each other — and understand each other! — using concepts with the same semantics: bridge the communication gap Specifications are for human understanding

6 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Do not start with a blank sheet of paper Common concepts are not a radical novelty: They come from philosophy … and from ISO standards Technologists “who work on general theories of systems, control theory, optimization theory, the design of algorithms or simulation are applied philosophers of sorts, since they use philosophical concepts, such as those of event and system, and philosophical principles, such as those of the existence and lawfulness of the external world” (Mario Bunge) Aristotelian (intensional) vs. prototypical (extensional — examples, “user stories”, etc.) approach to modeling …does a fact correspond to the model?

7 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Do not start with a blank sheet of paper Common concepts are not a radical novelty: They come from philosophy … and from ISO standards “From time to time it is probably necessary to detach one’s self from the technicalities of the argument and to ask quite naively what it is all about” (F.A.Hayek) “Until we have definite questions to ask, we cannot employ our intellect; and questions presuppose that we have formed some provisional hypothesis or theory about the events” (F.A.Hayek) A model is “a special theory of some factual domain”. It “involves a substantial deliberate simplification of empirical knowledge, as well as original constructs not found in experience” (M. Bunge)

8 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Do not start with a blank sheet of paper Common concepts are not a radical novelty: They come from philosophy … and from ISO standards Reference Model of Open Distributed Processing Defines the concepts and analytical framework for describing arbitrary distributed processing systems An excellent system of well-defined common generic concepts and constructs ( patterns of reasoning ) Emphasis on semantics, not syntax Solid foundation based on mathematics Well-written and short ! (18 pages)

9 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Example: Names “only in the context of a proposition has a name meaning” (Wittgenstein) a name is “a term which, in a given naming context, refers to an entity” (RM-ODP) David Hilbert noted that the content of elementary geometry does not suffer any changes if we replace the words “point”, “line”, and “plane” by the terms “chair”, “table”, and “bar”… As opposed to “meaningful names”: “Everyone knows what a patient is” — 50 meanings in 50 contexts “Everyone knows what a trade confirmation is” — …

10 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Example: Composition relationship Composition: “[a] combination of two or more [items] yielding a new [item], at a different level of abstraction. The characteristics of the new [item] are determined by the [items] being combined and by the way they are combined.” (RM-ODP) “[a] property of a system is emergent if it is not possessed by any component of the system” (Mario Bunge) Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (1776), Book One, Chapter VI “Of the Component Parts of the Price of Commodities”

11 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Analytical framework Analysis is “breaking down a whole into its components and their mutual relations ”. (Mario Bunge) Ontology — “what is there”: “[t]he objects which you see in Lombard Street, and in that money world which is grouped about it, are the Bank of England, the Private Banks, the Joint Stock Banks, and the bill brokers. But before describing each of these separately we must look at what all have in common, and at the relation of each to the others.” (Walter Bagehot, 1873) Another ISO standard: General Relationship Model Defines relationships using invariants Property determination essential for semantics of interesting relationships Composition, subtyping, reference

12 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu Business patterns “When a number of drawings are made after one pattern, though they may all miss it in some respects, yet they will all resemble it more than they resemble one another; the general character of the pattern will run through them all; the most singular and odd will be those which are most wide of it; and though very few will copy it exactly, yet the most accurate delineations will bear a greater resemblance to the most careless, than the careless ones will bear to one another.” Adam Smith, The theory of moral sentiments (1759) Template — a “specification of the common features of a collection of [items] in sufficient detail that an [item] can be instantiated using it” (RM-ODP) Invariant, Type, … Composition, Subtyping, … Contract, … [see Uniform Commercial Code] Trade, Option Trade, …

13 Philosophy-based mechanisms for communicationHaim Kilov and Ira Sack haimk@acm.orgisack@stevens.edu References Standard ISO/IEC JTC1/SC21. Open Distributed Processing - Reference Model: Part 2: Foundations (ITU- T Recommendation X.902 | ISO/IEC 10746-2). Books Bunge, Mario. Scientific realism. (Ed. M. Mahner). Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001. Bunge, Mario. Philosophical dictionary. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003. Kilov, Haim. Business Models. Prentice-Hall, 2002. Kilov, Haim, Baclawski, Kenneth (Eds.). Practical Foundations of Business System Specifications. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003. Morabito, J., Sack, I., & Bhate, A. Organization Modeling: Innovative Architectures for the 21st Century. Prentice Hall (PTR), 1999. Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. 1776. Papers Hayek, F.A. The theory of complex phenomena. In: The critical approach to science and technology (In honor of Karl R. Popper). (Ed. Mario Bunge). London: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1964, pp. 332-349. Kilov, H., and Sack, I. Exploiting Reusable Abstractions in Organizational Inquiry: Why Reinvent Square Wheels? In: Inquiring Organizations: Moving from Knowledge Management to Wisdom (Eds. James Courtney, David B. Paradice, John D. Haynes), Idea Group, 2005.


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