Experimenting with a Data-Based Framework
for Ontologies

Robert Meersman, meersman@vub.ac.be

LSDIS Lab, Computer Science Department colloquium
April 2, 10:15 - 11:00pm, 101 Hardman














Organized by

Organizer: Amit Sheth

Formal ontologies can be seen as mathematical objects that form the range of a classical "Tarskian" semantics interpretation mapping of first-order language constructs that could represent situations, functions or procedures related to a given domain. Some design methods and techniques such as view integration that were originally developed for large databases, where the "data models" and their semantics typically are limited to a particular application, could be relevant for this purpose, and we analyze parallelisms and fundamental differences between databases and ontologies. In particular the ORM (Object-Role Modeling) method, or rather its precursor NIAM, with its rigorous distinction and handling of so-called lexical and non-lexical knowledge could prove to be an interesting candidate to help identify and clarify a number of these issues, and I will try to illustrate this with a number of examples. I will argue that in a precise sense, by "externalizing semantics", ontologies allow (database) applications to achieve a level of "semantic independence" much in an analogous fashion that database systems delivered "data independence. I will discuss ongoing research within STARLab’s DOGMA Project that indicates how such database methods and tools may or must be adapted to be usable in the context of ontologies, and how they may then help to define ontology updates, the role of domain constraints, and future tools that assist in e.g. the alignment of ontologies.

Biographical Sketch

Ph.D in Mathematics at the Free University Of Brussels (VUB) in 1976. Appointed as Full Professor at VUB in 1995. Earlier positions include the University of Antwerp (UIA, 1975-78), Control Data Corp. (Data Management Lab, Brussels, Belgium, 1978-83). Worked there on the definition of the NIAM (now ORM) method as well as languages (RIDL) and first tools for this methodology. Held chairs and founded the InfoLabs at University of Limburg (Belgium, 1983-86) and at University of Tilburg (The Netherlands, 1986-95).

Member and Past Chairman (1983-1992) of the IFIP WG2.6 on Database. Past Chairman of the IFIP TC 12 (Artificial Intelligence, 1987-92). Co-Founder and current President of the International Foundation for Cooperative Information Systems (IFCIS, since 1994) and of the Distributed Objects Applications Institute (DOA, since 2000).

Founded the Systems Technology and Applications Research Laboratory (STARLab) at VUB in 1995. Director of STARLab since. Current scientific interests include ontologies, database semantics, domain and database modeling, interoperability and use of databases in applications such as enterprise knowledge management and the Semantic Web.

More at: http://www.starlab.vub.ac.be/staff/robert/

    Last update: April 01, 2002