2004 HandbookOnOntologies

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Subject Headings: Edited Volume, Ontology.

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Preface

  • The Handbook on Ontologies in Information Systems provides a comprehensive overview of the current status and future prospectives of the field of ontologies. In the early nineties, ontologies have been a research topic being addressed in a rather small research community, the Knowledge Acquisition Community. There, ontologies came into play by the conceptual shift from the ’knowledge transfer’-view on knowledge acquisition to the ’knowledge modeling’- view, most prominently reflected in the CommonKADS methodology for knowledge engingeering and management [10]. Being applied in the context of developing knowledge-based systems, ontologies were classified into domain ontologies, method ontologies, task ontologies, and top-level ontologies that cover the different aspects that are relevant when modeling knowledge-based systems [8, 11].
  • This rather limited role and impact of ontologies changed drastically in the late nineties by the insight that a conceptual, yet executable model of an application domain provides a significant added value for all kinds of application scenarios like knowledge management or e-Commerce, to mention just a few of them. Obviously, the main push for ontologies was given by the vision of the SemanticWeb as coined by Tim Berners-Lee [1, 3]. In the Semantic Web ontologies provide the conceptual underpinning for making the semantics of metadata machine interpretable. Being nowadays an important research and application topic in many subject areas, ontologies constitute a field of activities that evolves very fast, both in research and industry.
  • Being used in such diverse application contexts, it is not easy to agree on a common definition for an ontology. However, in the informatics community there has been gained some agreement on using the following definition, based on [6]: ”An ontology is a formal explicit specification of a shared conceptualization for a domain of interest.” What we can see from this definition on the one hand is the fact that an ontology has to be specified in a language that comes with a formal semantics. Only by using such a formal approach ontologies provide the machine interpretable meaning of concepts and relations that is expected when using an ontology-based approach. On the other hand, ontologies rely on a social process that heads for an agreement among a group of people with respect to the concepts and relations that are part of an ontology. As a consequence, domain ontologies will always be constrained to a limited domain and a limited group of people. Otherwise, such an agreement will not be feasible. That is clearly one lesson learned from the failure of specifying enterprise-wide data models in the Eighties.

References

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 AuthorvolumeDate ValuetitletypejournaltitleUrldoinoteyear
2004 HandbookOnOntologiesSteffen Staab
Rudi Studer
Handbook on Ontologieshttp://books.google.com/books?id=W6ZNcAolVbwC2004