Ontologies: What Are They, and Where's The Research?

A panel held at
KR'96, the Fifth International Conference on Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning
November 5, 1996
in Cambridge, Massachusetts

In recent years, the AI community has been evolving a notion of ontologies as artifacts that play significant roles in knowledge representation and reasoning (KR&R). The objective of this panel was to contribute to that evolutionary process and to promote a greater degree of consideration of ontology-related research in the KR&R community.

The panel focused on the following two questions:

We adopted the premise that it would be worthwhile for the KR&R community to converge on a formal definition of what it means by an "ontology". We were particularly interested in precisely relating ontologies to symbol-level artifacts and to the roles they play in KR&R so that ontologies can be distinguished from arbitrary knowledge bases, the formal properties of ontologies can be studied, reasoning methods specifically for ontologies can be developed, effective tools for building and maintaining ontologies can be developed, etc.

The panel consisted of:

Richard Fikes, Chair
Professor (Research), Computer Science
Knowledge Systems Laboratory
Stanford University

Mark Fox
Professor, Industrial Engineering
Enterprise Integration Laboratory
University of Toronto

Nicola Guarino
Research Scientist, Institute for Systems Science and Biomedical Engineering
Italian National Research Council

William Mark
Director, Architecture Laboratory
National Semiconductor Corporation

The following are the slides from the panel presentations: The following are the position statements included in the conference proceedings: