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Taxonomy and Ontology. Ian Bailey ian@modelfutures.com. Overview. Attempt to compare the disciplines of Taxonomy and Ontology What do they have in common ? Where do they differ ? How are they used ? Case Study: UK Defence Taxonomy

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taxonomy and ontology

Taxonomy and Ontology

Ian Bailey

ian@modelfutures.com

overview
Overview
  • Attempt to compare the disciplines of Taxonomy and Ontology
    • What do they have in common ?
    • Where do they differ ?
    • How are they used ?
  • Case Study: UK Defence Taxonomy
    • In March 2009, MOD ran a small research project to investigate how master reference data is best provided to enterprise architects
    • We took the UKDT and re-engineered large parts of it into a formal ontology (based on IDEAS ontology)
  • Assume the audience knows far more about Taxonomy than I do
taxonomy and ontology3
Taxonomy and Ontology
  • Several definitions for both, not all of them are consistent
  • The types of taxonomy developed in UK Gov seem to be about terminology
    • Providing consistent terms to enable better discovery of information and consistency of communication
    • Usually implemented in software systems, but their goal is to help humans find stuff and be more consistent
  • Again, there are different flavours of ontology around
    • They all seem to share the common trait of being models of domain of interest
    • Unlike a taxonomy, an ontology models the things of interest and their relationships. The names of those things is of secondary concern to the structure of the things
    • Ontologies tend not to be for human consumption – not only are they “computer-interpretable”, they are generally speaking able to configure a system to do certain things
t o quick example to compare
T&O – Quick Example to Compare
  • Barracks and garrisons taxonomy
    • Descending by “narrower term”
    • Aldershot Garrison narrower than Barracks and Garrisons
    • Arnhem Barracks Aldershot narrower than Aldershot Garrison
  • An ontology cares more about the natureof these things
    • Barracks and Garrisons is a type
    • Aldershot Garrison is and individual
    • Their relationship is type-instance
  • Arnhem Barracks is also an individual
    • Its relationship to Aldershot Garrison is whole-part
  • Making these distinctions allows for computer systems to interpret reality in a way that is closer to human understanding
looking at it another way
Looking at it Another Way
  • Venn Diagrams & Physical Structures
    • Types (ovals) and Individuals (rectangles)
    • Individuals and their parts
  • Relationships are important
    • What was simply narrower term in the taxonomy breaks down into super-subtype (between types), type-instance (between types and things of that type) and whole-part (between individuals)

whole-part

type-instance

built estate

Aldershot garrison

barracks and garrisons

Arnhem Barracks

Aldershot garrison

Browning Barracks

super-subtype

Brunevel Barracks

Arnhem Barracks,

Aldershot

etc.

why bother
Why Bother ?
  • This may seem like a lot of fuss…
  • However, you can build systems on this stuff
  • Super-Subtype Inheritance
    • If we know Built Estate has a lat-long location, then we know Barracks and Garrisons also have lat-long
  • Type-Instance
    • …and we also know that Aldershot has a specific lat-long value
  • Whole-Part
    • If we know Aldershot Garrison is in Hampshire then we know Brunevel Barracks is also in Hampshire
  • The point is that a certain degree of sophistication is required in order that systems can make inferences that can support business
    • Allows automation of a number of processes that would otherwise have been manual
names objects
Names & Objects
  • There are things in the real word (individuals, types, relationships) and there are the names we give them

Object Space

Name Space

named-by

Built Estate

narrower-term

Barracks and Garrisons

narrower-term

super-subtype

named-by

Aldershot garrison

narrower-term

named-by

Arnhem Barracks, Aldershot

type-instance

named-by

type-instance

Ontologies tend to become quite “webby”, and this is a good thing. It better reflects reality, is extensible, and can cope with very complex concepts

whole-part

synonyms and homonyms
Synonyms and Homonyms
  • The next level of sophistication for on ontology is to allow more than one namespace
    • Each object in the real world may have more than one name, each belonging to different namespaces
    • e.g. German, French and English names:
    • Homonyms are simply the same text being use to describe two different objects, but in two different namespaces

German Namespace

“Hund”

named-by

English Namespace

named-by

“dog”

named-by

French Namespace

“chien”

named-by

Army Namespace

“tank”

Navy Namespace

“tank”

named-by

RAF Namespace

named-by

“tank”

take care with synonyms
Take Care with Synonyms
  • Some taxonomies can be quite loose with their “Alternative Terms”
    • Prime Minister <> Tony Blair
    • Recycling <> Black Bin Bag
  • Sometimes, what appear to be synonyms are actually names applying to different states of something:

“Miss A Smith”

Person

“Miss A Smith”

“Mrs

A Jones”

“Mrs A Evans”

Time

  • In the same way that we use whole-part to break individuals into their physical parts, we can also break them into temporal parts
    • This is called 4D Ontology
    • Each temporal part has a name
methodology
Methodology
  • There aren’t many formal methods for developing ontologies
    • Either done by navel-gazing academics agonising for weeks over the essence of a concept
    • …or hacked together by programmers
    • Neither are ideal situations
  • There is one methodology, designed for re-engineering existing data into an ontology
    • The BORO Method (Business Object Re-engineering Ontology)
    • Developed by Chris Partridge – ex KPMG legacy data practice lead
    • IDEAS upper ontology is developed using BORO
boro flowchart
BORO Flowchart

what are the members ? Select some typical members and analyse these

START HERE

Does

it have spatial and

temporal

extent ?

Select a concept for analysis

no

(not individual)

what does it relate ?

Add these things to

the analysis

yes

(individual)

yes

Does it

have members ?

Add to model

yes

(type)

no

Does it

relate things ?

yes

(tuple)

no (if you’ve got to this stage, the concept needs to be broken down further)

ontology in mod country codes
Ontology in MOD – Country Codes
  • Starting with the SCOPE geo taxonomy, we built an ontology for locations
    • Using the namespace concept, we allowed for multiple names and identifiers for each geo-political entity
      • e.g. ISO country codes, NATO country codes, US FIPS10-4 country codes, names in English, German, etc.
    • Also added borders information

whole-part

whole-part

type-instance

named-by

ontology in mod ea master data
Ontology in MOD – EA Master Data
  • Enterprise Architecture is multidisciplinary
    • Business processes, org structures, systems modelling, etc.
  • Need to encourage consistent terminology and structures in EA
    • Maximise re-use of existing architecture
  • Used UK Defence Taxonomy as basis and produced an ontology for MODAF users
    • Defence Estates – bases, garrisons, barracks
    • Equipment – types of platform, weapon, comms system, etc.
    • Organisation structure – brigades, squadrons, etc.
  • Also pulled in data from other sources
    • Defence Framework (org structure of MOD)
    • MOD website (military org structures)
where we are where we re going
Where We Are, Where We’re Going
  • IDEAS
    • International upper ontology developed by defence ministries of UK, US, Canada, Sweden and Australia
    • Adopted by DoD as basis for DoD Architecture Framework v2.0 (DODAF DM2)
    • Foundation released in April 2009
  • UK MOD
    • Continued involvement with ontology and IDEAS
    • Michael Warner keeps tabs on projects
    • Currently investigating use of IDEAS in MODAF (as the US did with DoDAF)
    • Other ontology projects around – esp. around intelligence and counter-terror
  • Ordnance Survey
    • John Goodwin at OS
    • Developing natural language notations for ontologies
    • Will present at a future TIPS event
further reading
Further Reading
  • BORO & Ontology
    • Cutter Paper
      • http://www.cutter.com/offers/forensicIS.html
    • Chris Partridge’s book
      • “Business Objects: Re-Engineering for Re-Use”
      • ISBN 978-0955060304
    • 4D Ontology
      • “How Things Persist”; Katherine Hawley
      • ISBN 978-0199275434
contact
Contact

Ian Bailey

ian@modelfutures.com

www.modelfutures.com