|To:||"Ontology Summit 2007 Forum" <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>|
|From:||"Obrst, Leo J." <lobrst@xxxxxxxxx>|
|Date:||Mon, 22 Jan 2007 21:20:00 -0500|
I agree with you. A number of us through the years have come up with similar ontology continuums or spectrums. I prefer my Ontology Spectrum*, but that's natural, I guess. It was developed over time to act as an educational aid. I found that many folks understood notions such as taxonomies, database schemas, UML models, but they didn't know how these related to the new kid on the block, ontologies. Was a thesaurus an ontology? No. Was a UML model: no, not yet. And term vs. concept (placeholder for real world referent) is a crucial distinction. The former is a word/phrase (string, utterance) that indexes the latter, which is a representation of the meaning of that term (at least approximately). The important point is that these concepts/placeholders are meant to stand in for real world referents, since ontology is about the things of the world. I also attach a newer slide that tries to show those distinctions, along with their typical use cases: OntologySpectrumApplication-Obrst06.jpg.
*If you look at the current Wikipedia article on the subject, it's not completely accurate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_spectrum. I independently developed the Ontology Spectrum in Fall, 1999, and it really represents one dimension, though it is depicted diagonally (for increased space) as though it were two dimensional: the one dimension is in terms of expressivity of the model. Also the 4 way stations of taxonomy, thesaurus, conceptual model, and logical theory are semantic models; that is why I don’t include glossaries, term lists, etc., directly -- they are not models but are human language lists and definitions. Mike Uschold, Mike Gruninger, and Chris Welty and I have talked about this topic of the co-invention of the semantic/ontology spectrum for quite some time. Personally, I prefer my Ontology Spectrum because I overlay onto the specific models additional information, such as the kind of parent-child relation, related database and modeling languages, and logic information. But all of these ontology spectrum/semantic continuums are sound: they represent the best distillations of solid generalizations especially good for educational purposes.You are probably referring to the presentations I gave at Ontolog last Jan 19/26 2006: "What is an ontology? - A Briefing on the Range of Semantic Models", http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?ConferenceCall_2006_01_12.
Dr. Leo Obrst The MITRE Corporation, Information Semantics
lobrst@xxxxxxxxx Center for Innovative Computing & Informatics
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