vishwakosh – vai

November 20, 2009

I happen to visit the vishwakosh (encyclopedia) office in vai on 7th nov. I was really glad to interact with the people and look at the interesting and resourceful library of classic collection and encyclopedia. It is worth visiting the library. Prof. H.C.Pradhan was discussing with Mr. Chaunde related to the biology encyclopedia.  Since i had some curiousity about it which i have also mentioned in my earlier post related to change in biological terms, I participated in their discusison. Chaunde was showing how they are managing the entries, the usage of sorting cards. The information on the sorting cards display the name of the term and also a related entry with see also. In this way, they are now trying to embedd the terms which are introduced in the textbooks. It seems that the vishwakosh project began about five years ago, the list of entries was decided but the textbook committee have overlooked this project and hence there has been discrepancies in the names of the terms. But even this problem is being handled by the vishwakosh. They are really meticulously taking care of such issues.

Over a cup of coffee, Chaunde shared his experiences about peoples responses to their work. Overall, I was satisfied with this meet, cos my quest of finding the rationale behind the change in the terms was a bit resolved.


shastralay – vai

November 9, 2009

last weekend (7-8 nov.2009) i visited the experimental school – shastralay located in vai (satara district). a visit which i was looking forward to (see my earlier post). i clubbed my trip with prof. h.c.pradhan who was visiting the school in connection with a meeting. he is on the academic advisory board of the school. we started at 6:00 am from hbcse and reached vai at about 10:30 am. the school is called shastralay.

the shastralay, funded by the kirloskars, is being run by ramesh panse, who has also been involved in setting up the gram mangal in aine. there were other people from various organisations, teachers of shastralay gathered for the meeting. before the meeting could begin, prachi natu took all of us on a tour of each subject lab to show and explain about the setup, teaching methods, students’ activities, etc. at this stage the school is upto 5th std.

after about an hour long tour of each labs, the meeting commenced. panse explained the working principles behind the school, their approach towards learning by doing science, reflection on the initial stages of setup, and planning for further developments. h.c.pradhan gave very valuable suggestions towards shaping up and enhancing the experimental school from pedagogical point of view.

then we had a fantastic lunch break. the lunch was typical of the region–bajara bhakri topped with loni, gajarachi koshimbir, thecha, karlyachi chatni, bhaji, dahi. although the bhaji was spicy, we all enjoyed and were content with the lunch.

the post lunch session was continuation of the meeting, where the teachers shared their experiences and was more of an interactive sessions. i also shared my inputs which have been received positively.

my experiences — personally it was very exciting visit about getting to know about shastralay. i wanted to get a glimpse about what happens at the grassroot level when it comes to education and how it is being practically implemented.

overall it was a very enriching experience for me and travelling on a field trip was fun.


experimental school

October 24, 2009

it began with a discussion over the breakfast table. prerna walimbe and myself were just sharing about our work and interests. prerna from gram mangal mentioned me about the shashtralay, an experimental school in vai, satara district, where they emphasize on learning by doing. infrastructure is developed and they are hunting for people with content expertise. the school is developing subject labs for learning sciences. i found it interesting, and i mentioned that a few years back i visited an experimental school in aine – gram mangal, which is also developed on similar principles. prerna mentioned that they are following on it, and she insisted that i should pay a visit to know more. i was very much interested and was curious to observe such school.

looking forward to visit vai on 7th nov. 2009.


change in the names of scientific terms in marathi textbooks

September 12, 2009

Today, discussion over lunch made me curious to find out who decides the changes in the scientific terms that are used in the textbook.

We were discussing about the Marathi Vishwakosh Project that HBCSE is involved in. In the early years of HBCSE, V G Kulkarni (Founder Director, HBCSE)  instigated the project on language in science. Since then, there are a few members who are working in this area.

Deshmukh explained the volumes of work that the project is coming up with. It has been decided to bring a separate volume for biology subject and produce it in three parts. Related to the scientific terminology, he mentioned that a few scientific terminology in marathi textbook has been changed and hence the members have to pay heed to the latest usage of the term. He gave two instances of such change: the marathi term for auricle has been changed from karnika to alind; for ventricle it has been changed from javanika to nilay;  the other instance of marathi term for skull has been changed from kavati to karkara. I was anxious to know why the name of the terms got changed, who decides that such change is required in textbook, what is the rationale behind it. May be the textbook bureau decides about these changes. Jayashree too agreed, and she added that it could be that they want to give a more specific word for a very specialized part.

But i am not yet convinced. Can a name of a scientific term change over a period of time. Well of course, if the meaning that is implied to it changes. But in this case, atleast the meanings of auricle, ventricle, skull  are not yet changed, and their english names of terms are still the same. So what makes the marathi language textbook bureau to change it. Then we thought we should check the bodies/organizations who possibly could be involved in this work. We all headed to the library, and referred a few books related to Vishwakosh, Paribhasha Granth, etc. We could find atleast two bodies who have been involved in this work since the 1970s: Bhasha Sanchalanalay (Directorate of Language); and Maharashtra Rajya Sahitya-Sanskriti Mandal (Maharashtra State Board of Literature and Culture). Perhaps one can write/meet these people and find out more.

As i am also interested in the language of science, all this discussion has made me more curious, and i am into finding out as to who decides the changes in the scientific terms and what is the rationale behind it.


relations and functions in biology

May 27, 2009

As we know that functions (1 to 1) are different from relations (1 to many). All functions are relations, but not all relations are functions. In the case of creating an ontology for biology, we use relations. But, in biology, is it possible to apply the functions as well. Can there be any such relation which is a function in the case of biomedical ontology. For example, part-of, composed-of, located-in, surrounded-by, etc. are all relations in the context of biomedical ontology. Or do we have to always understand biology ontology in terms of relations only and not functions.

Prof. Barry Smith (University of Buffalo) clarifies the distinction between ontology of relations and the way relations and functions are treated in a set theory. Further he emphasizes on the functional associations (in mathematical sense) can occur in process relations. For example, process-a regulates process-b.

Now this sounds interesting. In this case, I think, some of the process relations can be functional. Such process relations are : regulates, transforms into, derives from, develops into, preceded by, results into, etc.

Let me illustrate with a few assertions:
Larva transforms into pupa
zygote develops into foetus
blastula transforms into gastrula

What I am trying to point out is that the domain and range for these process relations will always be of  1 to 1 mapping. So, these process relations can be of functional type.

But the structural relations such as part of, surrounded by can not be of functional type as a domain can have many ranges in such relations.

P.S. This post is based on my discussion on relations and functions in biology on the OBO mailing list.


what is so different about GNOWSYS

April 7, 2009

Gnowsys can be used to represent structural knowledge, process modelling, as far as scientific knowledge is concerned. But then there also exists several other modelling tools such as—OBO-edit, Protege, OPM, KEGG, Virtual Cel, Cell Designer, Reactome, GO, etc. which can as well represent knowledge. So then, an obvious query that comes to my mind is  what is so different about Gnowsys? Isn’t it just an addition to the existing modelling tools. Nagarjuna explained that the differences are in the form mentioned below:

One of them is the architecture of Gnowsys itself being different with the other tools. As per the gnowsys architecture, everything that goes in is a node for e.g. concept, concept type, instance, relation, relation type, attributes, attribute type, are all stored as nodes, but in the form of networked nodes. A node cannot have meaning on its own. Its meaning is established only by its neighborhood. For instance, X is related to Y, and it can have many such simple relations.  This is in accordance, with the theory that knowledge exists in a network. If we want to understand what is force, then its understanding can be acquired depending on what relations does the concept force shares with other concepts like, mass, inertia, acceleration, etc.

Gnowsys can create versions even if there is a single (simple) change to a node. This change can be in the form of either adding a node, editing a node, adding a relation, editing a relation, deleting a relation. From this list even if there is change in just one kind, then also it can create versions and record the history. This kind of change is accordance with the degrees of conceptual change that Paul Thagard explains in his book Conceptual Revolutions. According to Thagard,  conceptual change can occure when there is addition of concepts, addition of relations. With this model of versioning, gnowsys can record the changes that ocurs in people’s conceptual framework, thus enabling to trace the conceptual changes.

Another difference is that gnowsys does not store knowledge in any kind of file system. It is on the web, in another way to put it, gnowsys does not ask in which file format should it save the knowledge created. But at the same time, it can possibly exchange to various formats that of OWL.

The other difference is that gnowsys can store multiple ontologies. Using just one application of Gnowsys, it would be possible to store structural knowledge, process, metabolic pathways, etc. It will be interesting to see the multiple ontologies by importing a few of the existing ontologies (can be cell division, gene ontology, metabolic pathways, environment ontology,  etc.)  from the public domain and from several different places and allow these ontologies to store in gnowsys.

It would be useful to know, if there are other differences.

This excerpt is based on discussion over tea.


focus group meeting

January 9, 2009

During the episteme3, our presentations on Refined Concept Maps, gnowledge.org generated interest among few participants. A focus group meeting for more interaction, collaboration was planned after today’s lunch. The members included Dr. Vrunda Prabhu, Dr. Brian, Prof. H.C.Pradhan, Dr. Nagarjuna, Ms. Meena. The group from City University, New York have  a repository of concept maps on mathematics based on their research work, students’ essays, etc. Prof. Pradhan shared his research on concept maps on physics and ways to analyze the concepts based on the links, distance. Our research group (Nagarjuna and Meena) shared our  research work on refined concept maps on biology  domain, and how the gnowledge.org can help build a  roadmap of knowledge from any given domain. The group also discussed on how to use the cognitive distance, semantic proximity for analyzing the concepts in a network.

This seems a useful outcome of the episteme-3 conference for our research group. Let us see how it proceeds.