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Re: [ontolog-forum] using SKOS for controlled values for controlled voca

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Simon Spero <ses@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 9 Oct 2010 21:27:22 -0400
Message-id: <AANLkTi=a-Bq91O1-HvNJi0849c1=vRoSLLiRVL1vzb9L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Sat, Oct 9, 2010 at 8:44 PM, Obrst, Leo J. <lobrst@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
SKOS is a controlled vocabulary language, not an ontology language. You know the hazards of inferring a (stronger) subclass relation between two classes or classification nodes than the (weaker) lexical relation of narrower-than. SKOS was developed to address that, and it's a good thing. A conceptual class in an ontology is not the same as a lexical classification node in a thesaurus. OWL addresses ontologies; SKOS addresses vocabularies. The former are conceptual, the latter are lexical.

Leo is basically correct here, [ though there is a good case to be made that the hypo/hyperonym relationship between words is not strictly  lexical the way that antonymy is  - see Murphy, M. Lynne (2003). Murphy, M.L. is no relation to Murphy, Gregory. L, author of the Big Book Of Concepts (2002),  though he was on her dissertation committee ]

The undifferentiated Broader Term relationship (BT) is only meaningful in terms of ``aboutness'' of ``documents''.  Standards for controlled vocabularies such as Z39.19 (NISO 2005) allow this relationship to be subdivided into three more constrained types of relationships; where these more specific relationships are used it is possible to make valid inferences about the ontology of the domain the controlled vocabulary describes.  Z39.19 is the US standard, and is aligned with the ISO 2788 standard mentioned earlier; there are a few differences, the most important of which is that the US standard is available for free online, and the ISO standard isn't.

A Broader Term Generic (BTG) relationship between two concepts implies a subclass relationship between the classes in the underlying ontology  associated with the concepts.   

Similarly, the Broader Term Instantive (BTI) relationship entails an  instance/class relationship in the underly ontology.

The Broader Term Partitive relationship (BTP) entails that all instances of the the class associated with the narrower term must either be in some way a part of an instance of the broader term, or their separation must be exceptional and require explanation.  
This is just an approximation; defining the precise entailment is mere ology and is left as an exercise to the reader. 
For extra fun, try expressing the relationship using RDFS/OWL/SWRL.


Murphy, Gregory L (2002). The Big Book of Concepts. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Murphy, M. Lynne (2003). Semantic relations and the lexicon: antonymy, synonymy and other paradigms. 

Cambridge University Press.

NISO Z39.19 (2005). Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Control led 

Vocabularies. National Information Standards Organization. url: http://bit.ly/c2p4aA

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