Ontological Theory for Ontological Engineering: Biomedical Systems Information Integration

James M. Fielding, Jonathan Simon, Werner Ceusters, and Barry Smith

Software application ontologies have the potential to become the keystone in state-of-the-art information management techniques. It is expected that these ontologies will support the sort of reasoning power required to navigate large and complex terminologies correctly and efficiently. Yet, there is one problem in particular that continues to stand in our way. As these terminological structures increase in size and complexity, and the drive to integrate them inevitably swells, it is clear that the level of consistency required for such navigation will become correspondingly difficult to maintain. While descriptive semantic representations are certainly a necessary component to any adequate ontology-based system, so long as ontology engineers rely solely on semantic information, without a sound ontological theory informing their modeling decisions, this goal will surely remain out of reach. In this paper we describe how Language and Computing nv (L&C), along with The Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Sciences (IFOMIS), are working towards developing and implementing just such a theory, combining the open software architecture of L&C’s LinkSuiteTM with the philosophical rigor of IFOMIS’s Basic Formal Ontology. In this way we aim to move beyond the more or less simple controlled vocabularies that have dominated the industry to date.

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