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[ontolog-forum] Thoughts on the status of Ontological "Geospatial" Part

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: Gary Berg-Cross <gbergcross@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2010 12:54:33 -0500
Message-id: <AANLkTimf26awf7BDrNuLTEbWhnEsjKZMJQ5jGsU0P1Hc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
At the recent SOCoP workshop on geosemantics (
) several presenters mentioned in passing work on the concept of
“part-of” with one speaker tossing out the notion that this remains an
unsolved ontological geospatial topic although one points to Mereology
for some understanding. In some parts of the GIS community Rosanne
Price’s 3 types of part-whole relationships are probably
representative - spatial part, spatial membership, and spatial
inclusion. These semantics were modeled loosely in UML however (I have
read that Guizzardi’s 2005 dissertation addressed some of the prpblems
with expressing part-whole in UML -  Ontological Foundations for
Structural Conceptual Models. Phd thesis, University of Twente,)    (01)

It got me to thinking whether there was an agreement on where we are
on this issue. What formal Ontologies have broached this in detail and
how do various efforts compare?    (02)

Obviously Cyc has addressed this. The Open Cyc Part-Whole Vocabulary
is at http://www.cyc.com/cycdoc/vocab/part-vocab.html Among the
geospatial part concepts (not the organizational ones or “fish are
part of the ocean examples) they discuss are:    (03)

#$physicalParts captures the commonsense idea of a regular physical
object’s parts.  So it is used in Cyc to refer to human-identifiable
“physically-separable parts” of an object, including parts that are
glued or welded together.   Examples of parts with its own identity
(i.e. the wheels of a car, the tail of a dog, the fingers on a hand,
etc.).    (04)

In that ontology #$physicalDecompositions is used for an ARBITRARY
physical chunk of an object.  In Opencyc this is distinct from
#$physicalPortions which refers to a portion that contains a
representative sample of everything in the whole.  So a physical
portion of a salad with five ingredients might have representatives of
all five ingredients, whereas a physical decomposition might have only
one, two, or three of the ingredients.    (05)

#$anatomicalParts refers to parts like physical parts, but anatomical
parts each have their own anatomical function (i.e. the throat of a
dog, the nervous system of a person, the eye of a bird).    (06)

There might be more specializations of this anatomicalPart in
something like OBO and I know that various researchers involved with
DOLCE talk about essential and mandatory parts.    (07)

Is there any work that looks at the whole of this and provides some
guidance on where we are in this topic?    (08)

Mappings between ontologies might be interesting and could be done as
part of OOR work, but we shouldn’t reinvent the ontological wheel.    (09)

Gary Berg-Cross, Ph.D.   gbergcross@xxxxxxxxx
SOCoP Executive Secretary
Knowledge Strategies     Semantic Technology
Potomac, MD
240-426-0770    (010)

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