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[ontolog-forum] Ontological Means for Systems Engineering

To: "ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Tolk, Andreas" <atolk@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 07:15:13 -0500
Message-id: <4839109173C2DF4FAE02C9C3FBEE973F28036FC5D4@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I would like to get some feedback on an application domain of ontologies that has not been broadly covered in this forum. It is partly connected with the discussions on "next steps in using ontologies as standards," but has a different focus.
While we often focus on what can we express with ontologies, the world becomes much easier when we are talking about systems engineering. Systems are much smaller than the world. They have a well defined number of parts or entities that interact with each other to provide functionality.
In the moment we provide these functions as services - and the idea is not limited to IT services - it becomes important to describe the system as good as possible ... and now ontological means come into play. Ontologies provide the means to describe the systems, its components, functions, and even constraints in form of concepts, entities, relations, and axioms. The nice thing is that all these descriptions are machine understandable, and so they can be used to identify potential supporting systems, select the best fit for the job, and synchronize - or even orchestrate - the execution of several selected systems in support of the common task.
We can even go a step further and formulate requirements in form of ontological _expression_. This will support verification and validation tremendously, and also help to unambiguously specify what is needed. This allows to identify if new developments are needed, or if a composition of existing services can fulfill the requirement.
Are there any examples of success stories in this direction already available? Are there any journal publications on systems engineering using ontological means supporting these ideas?
All the best
==================== ;-)
Andreas Tolk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Engineering Management & Systems Engineering
Old Dominion University

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