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[ontolog-forum] Become the Ontology SME

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2014 16:12:56 -0400
Message-id: <53B07348.2090004@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Deriving the information for an ontology is a double translation problem. First, you must understand the structure of the ontology to be created. This is a task in and of itself because the SME's view is uninformed in terms of ontological structure. But, because the SME doesn't understand ontologies, he/she is not able to respond to questions in ways that are directly useful, so a translation must be done for each entity in the ontology.

A posting on FastML describes how one scientist addressed the problem in designing an ontology for the decision process for kidney transplants: he became the SME. The article was taken from Love and Math, a book by Edward Frenkel. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"I looked at the data. Like in our previous projects, there were about forty different parameters measured for each patient. During our regular meetings, I would ask Sergei pointed questions, trying to figure out which of these data were relevant and which weren’t. But this was hard. Like other doctors, he would give his answers based on specific cases, which was not very helpful.

I decided to use a different approach. I thought, “This man makes these kinds of decisions every day, and obviously he is very good at it. What if I manage to learn to ‘be him’? Even if I don’t know much about the medical aspects of the problem, I could try to learn his methodology following his decision-making process, and then I could use this knowledge to come up with a set of rules.”

If you would like to read the remainder, the article is at:


-John Bottoms
 FirstStar Systems
 Concord, MA

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