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Re: [ontolog-forum] retitled: UCUM v. UnitsML

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: 'George Percivall' <gpercivall@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, 'Raj Singh' <rsingh@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, 'Clemens Portele' <portele@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 13:15:42 -0400
Message-id: <4A5F603E.2030601@xxxxxxxx>
Cecil Lynch wrote:
> UCUM is the standard required for expression of units of measure in HL7
> messages (the health domain). As such, it is by default, the HITSP standard
> for units of measure since HITSP has adopted HL7 as the messaging syntax for
> the US. UnitsML is a markup language for the XML expression of units of
> measure, which would include UCUM, but other units of measure as well.
> Cecil lynch    (01)

First, this is a standards politics and alignment issue that is only of
passing interest in formulating a UoM ontology -- both of these
standards are sources of knowledge and requirements for us.  But, as I
standards politician ;-), I would like to see this issue addressed
somewhere.    (02)

Second, I'm glad Carl thinks this is a clarification.  I am a bit 
denser.  I don't see what distinction is being made in the above:
  UCUM is the standard required for expression of units of measure
  UnitsML is a markup language for the XML expression of units of
measure    (03)

Is UCUM standardized by HL7?  The UCUM website doesn't identify it as
having been adopted by any open standardization process, and doesn't
aver that it is a standard.  It says:
  "The Unified Code for Units of Measure is a code system intended to
include all units of measures being contemporarily used in international
science, engineering, and business. The purpose is to facilitate
unambiguous electronic communication of quantities together with their
and it goes on to talk about what it is compatible with.  If it has been
adopted as a standard by HL7, the website should be clear on that point
and provide the HL7 identifier.    (04)

UnitsML is not a standard; it is a draft standard of a 3-year-old OASIS
TC.  The website says:
  "UnitsML will enable markup of scientific units to allow unambiguous
storage, exchange, and processing of numeric data. The project has three
 UnitsML - an XML schema
 UnitsDB - a database containing detailed information on scientific
units of measure
 Tools - to facilitate the incorporation of UnitsML into other markup
languages"    (05)

I don't see how UnitsML "would include UCUM, but other units of measure 
as well."  The UnitsML database will presumably include the standard 
units of measure for which UCUM specifies a different XML 
representation.  Perhaps the OASIS UnitsDB will provide tooling to 
resolve UCUM URIs to UnitsML URIs and the corresponding UnitsDB entries? 
  Perhaps UCUM allows a reference to a unit to have an associated href 
that could be the UnitsML/UnitsDB URI?  Are these groups working 
together to make anything useful happen?    (06)

I'm a poor standards politician.  I like my clarifications to be clear.    (07)

Third, I did appreciate the subject line:
  "Re: [ontolog-forum] [SPAM] ..."  ;-)    (08)

And finally, see the disclaimer below.  (UnitsML is a NIST-led activity. 
  I don't speak for NIST in that area.)    (09)

-Ed    (010)

"That was a Rohrschach statement.  You got to see your model in what he 
said, and I got to see mine."
   -- Bruce Ambler    (011)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (012)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (013)

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