data, like all data managed in relational databases,
is about instances of types. Rows in a Customer table,
for example, are instances of the type Customer. Rows
in an ICD10 table are instances of IC10 codes.
are about the types themselves, not their instances.
They are about, e.g. the type Customer being a subtype
of the type Related Party. When the types are related
in an IS-A hierarchy, that is a taxonomy which is part
of an ontology. Other relationships among types flesh
out the ontology, supplementing the taxonomy. For
example, an agent/patient relationship might relate
Vendor to Customer.
are often graphically shown as a network of nodes and
arcs -- boxes with lines between them. I think most
ontologists would agree with me that this is just a
matter of convenience, a graphic way to depict logical
relationships among types. Technically speaking, the
nodes and arcs represent objects and predicates in a
second-order predicate logic.
in my opinion, while there is a great deal to say
about master data, and about ontologies, resulting in
a lot of potential for confusion, there is no more
fundamental way to distinguish them than by saying
that ontologies are to master data as types are to
instances (also called "tokens").
since relational databases do not manage types at all
-- or, at best, only in a primitive way -- you can
pretty much assume that commercial databases do not
include ontologies at all.
I need some help to better define the
line (sometimes apparently grey) between
master data and ontologies.
We all, at least in this forum, know
that there are several definitions for
I guess most of us are familiar with
Gruber's one: a formal specification of
a shared conceptualization.
In the case of master data:
- 'entities, relationships, and
attributes that are critical for an
enterprise and foundational to a key
business process and application
or among others:
- 'is the consistent and uniform set
of identifiers and extended attributes
that describes the core entities of an
What are the key components to
differenciate master data and
What is common to both artefacts?
From what I have seen, sometimes the
border between them seems indeed
relatively grey... which seems to be the
product of having ontologies as glue
components of disparate master data.
Also, there seems to be a continuum
between them (as in the databases and
knowledge base thread in this forum).
Anyway, I would appraciate reading your
thoughts about it.
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