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[ontolog-forum] Upper ontology content and structure

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Mike Bennett <mbennett@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2008 13:53:10 +0100
Message-id: <48DB89B6.1090505@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi all,    (01)

I have been working on a financial services ontology, which will be one 
of the items being presented at today's emerging ontologies showcase. In 
order to adequately capture (rather than merely assert the existence of) 
the meanings of terms like Share, Bond and so on, I have defined these 
as specialised versions of Contract, which is what they are. Similarly 
dividend payment terms are a kind of contractual terms, and so on. More 
interestingly, when we come to things like Issuer, Counterparty etc. 
these are clearly parties to some contract or some transaction.    (02)

The repository is at:    (03)

http://www.hypercube.co.uk/edmcouncil    (04)

It made sense to me, to define a whole universe of such high-level 
things as our financial terms are descended from - contracts, legally 
binding terms, parties, transactions, money, capital, formula terms and 
so on. What started as an exercise in defining the common, necessary 
facts about contracts and transactions, soon grew into an interlocking 
set of defined terms and relationships from which to derive the 
specialised things and properties in our specific universe of discourse, 
the financial sector.    (05)

It also made sense to me, to distinguish between first- second- and 
third-order classes of Thing, as defined by John Sowa and others (John's 
book summarises the history of those terms very well). This helps 
resolve problems prevalent in some industry data models, whereby a 
client or a counterparty ends up with phone numbers and things. It also 
made sense to set out partitions for continuant versus occurrent things 
(to model facts about corporate events, payments etc.), and concrete 
things versus abstract concepts (like strategy, which is a feature of a 
fund or portfolio).    (06)

So, at the very top of my model I have the top layer of John's stuff, in 
the form of three sets of partitions as noted above. Below that I have 
the most general things I can think of - those contracts and 
transactions, parties, etc., a well as mathematical, geographical, 
process and other building blocks. Everything else is derived from 
those. This lets me define for example the "Issued Equity" in a company, 
as being the thing which is issued equity in the standard accounts 
equation.    (07)

So far I have basic sets of terms which I know /assume to be true, in 
these different areas, but I would prefer if existing resources could be 
used (for example XBRL and REA for the financial stuff). REA I can use 
and will adapt to when I get a chance.    (08)

What interests me, and what I am really asking here, is why is this 
approach not noticeable in upper ontology resources like the Suggest 
Upper Merged Ontology (SUMO)? Am I missing something? SUMO looked to me 
like a single taxonomic hierarchy of classes of Thing, without these 
three sets of partitions. Before I can try to reuse existing 
standardisation of things and relationships, I would like to think that 
they already make these distinctions, particurly the first v second 
order distinction. I understand that different groups might approach 
these basic ideas differently, but where are they reflected at the moment?    (09)

I will address the question about whether the whole venture is 
conceptually impossible, in a separate posting, as I'm sure that's a view.    (010)

Best regards,    (011)

Mike Bennett
Hypercube Ltd. 
89 Worship Street
London EC2A 2BF
Tel: 020 7917 9522
Mob: 07721 420 730
www.hypercube.co.uk    (012)

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