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Re: [ontolog-forum] Taxonomies and Ontologies

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Brian (Bo) Newman" <bo.newman@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 13:18:39 -0400
Message-id: <>

While perhaps not semantically complete,  I have found it quite useful (in presentations to those outside of the ontological communities) by anchoring such discussions with; "A class hierarchy may also be called a taxonomy" [1] -- "taxonomies are methods for describing classification relationships" [2]; explaining that ontologies (formal or otherwise) provide additional semantic elements that allow them to covey more meaning that just what is provided by a taxonomy. 

Normally, before getting to this point, I have already explained the "Big O,"  "little o" distinction, and I point out that the development of a taxonomy (as well as the development of a formal ontology) is normally proceeded by the developer(s) acquiring some level of domain understanding (their personal domain specific operative ontology), which they draw upon to create the stylized (formalized?) artifact -- be it a taxonomy or a formal ontology.

I hope this helps ... however, as there in no single ontology that encompasses everyone's view of the world, I'm sure there are others on this list who may offer somewhat different explanations.

Cheers --

Brian (Bo) Newman
Founder, The KMForum.
Sr. Semantic Analyst, TECHi2


[1] Horridege, M. et al (2004), "A Practical Guide to Building OWL Ontologies Using The Protege-OWL Plug-in and CO-ODE Tools" ver 1.0, Aug, 27, 2004 , p.18. 

[2] Lacy, L. (2005), "Owl: Representing Information Using the Web Ontology Language," Trafford, Victoria, Canada, p .37.

At 08:55 AM 7/13/2005 -0700, you wrote:
Hello All,

I am re-posting this question since it seems there was some anomaly with the ontolog server. I hope someone out there can help!

Hello All,

I am looking for material regarding the relationship between ontologies
and taxonomies. I have seen a couple of slides showing taxonomies as a low
level or foundation level layer in some presentations regarding
ontologies, but it seems to me to be given short shrift. After all, if we
are to implement the Semantic Web in a robust way, we all need to agree on
the meaning of specific terms that may be used in ontologies or else the
higher level logic becomes a lot less meaningful.

If anyone knows of papers, articles, presentations, etc, on this topic,
please let me know.

Thanks very much in advance,


Jayne Dutra
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Information Architecture and Semantic Engineering
JPL Knowledge Management

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