Industrially Relevant Ontology Projects -- Request for Summaries
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Subject: Industrially Relevant Ontology Projects -- Request for Summaries 
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 95 11:58:12 -0400
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On NOVEMBER 6 in London, Mike Uschold and I (Michael Gruninger) are
presenting a tutorial titled: "ONTOLOGIES: PRINCIPLES, APPLICATIONS, AND
OPPORTUNITIES", aimed at an industrial audience.  

IN AN INDUSTRIAL CONTEXT in the near to medium term (or could be from a
technical point of view).

We INVITE YOU to describe some of your related work with hopes of
including it in the tutorial (e.g. as 2-sided single sheet handout
and/or as a case study illustrating points in the lectures).

Alternatively, if you know anyone who may wish to make their work known
in this fashion, can you put us in touch with them?

The way we intend to use these summaries is to:

1. hand out the summaries in the tutorial packet (make sure you
   explicitly retain copyright if you want it).
2. mention/describe them as case studies, and to use them to illustrate
   general concepts and issues throughout the tutorial.

In the longer term, we hope to make them available on web pages.

For inclusion into the upcoming tutorial, there is some URGENCY.
Materials must be prepared asap, ideally by 6 October.  However,
anything after that date is also very welcome.

If you are interested, and have not seen it already, I can send the full
tutorial announcement.

In case you are wondering what our views are about
	* What is an 'ONTOLOGY'?
	* What is an ontology USED for?
see the end of this message.

*** What YOU can do ***

If you are involved in or know about any projects which use ontologies
with some INDUSTRIAL RELEVANCE then consider preparing a short summary
of the project according to the format below.  Or, perhaps you can put
me in contact with people who may be involved in such projects who may
wish to contribute.

We see this as a WIN-WIN-WIN situation.  YOU win by having your project
publicised (and perhaps also by clarifying your thoughts with respect to
industrial relevance).  Wide breadth of coverage of industrially relevant
ontology projects increases quality of tutorial benefitting both

*** FORMAT for Summaries ***

What we want are clear descriptions containing the following
information, preferrably in something close to this actual format: 

0. Overall background of project, which may or may not center around the
production and/or use of an ontology.  WHO is funding it? 

1. What are the problems which building YOUR ontology is supposed to
solve?  Why are they important?  What will/would the significance of good
solution(s) be in hard-nosed business terms (i.e how will who will save
how much money?)
2. Why and How will (or does) an ontology help solve these problems?
Here is where some technical content is appropriate.

3. Current status: 
What state of development is the project? i.e major successes, ongoing
work, important failures (i.e things tried that did not work and why).

4. Scope and Projections for Industrial application: 

* is there any likely industrial application in forseeable future? why
or why not?

* If so, elaborate, give projections indicate any hopes, desires or
plans for such application; indicate what any barriers are or may be
to successful industrial application.

5. Contact information: names, addrsses, Home page URL etc.

Ideally, this should be no more than two pages A4/8x11 that can be on a
single sheet.  However, if you have more detailed material, this is also

*** HOW to SEND ***

Initially, send ascii text which could be printed out and distributed as
is. If possible, send also a .ps file, or tell us where to ftp it from.

Mike Uschold,                 	AI Applications Institute,                    
INTERNET:    The University of Edinburgh,
Tel: (0)131 650 2732            80 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1HN 
Fax:        650-6513		Scotland          

*** What do we mean by an 'ONTOLOGY' ***

I'm not sure what jargon-filled 'worlds' you inhabit or are familiar
with, so I'll briefly say what we mean by an ontology -- and you can
decide whether you wish to contribute anything.

An ontology is an explicit representation or characterisation of some
conceptualisation of a domain of interest. (e.g. a business model for
some company; or the domain of OODBs).  An ontology will typically
consist of a number of basic things (entities? objects?) and
relationships between them. It may be expressed informally as a set of
definitions of carefully selected and inter-related terms, or formally
encoded in some language (e.g. first-order logic, or some computer

Informaly expressed, an ontology is a glossary, but where a glossary might
be an set of arbitrarily selected (albeit in some limited domain of
interest) terms with definitions, an ontology *necessarily* relects a
coherent characterisation of a domain with the terms and their
inter-relationships carefully considered and defined.  Compare, for
example the glossary produced by the Workflow Management Coalition (URL: with a typical
glossary in, say a text book. For former is what we call an ontology
(that the WFMc calls theirs a glossary is not the point -- it is of
course a glossary, but a carefully and coherently produced one).

*** What are Ontologies USED for? ***

* COMMUNICATION of a shared understanding (e.g. a business model)
  this need not entail any level of formalisation or use of a computer

* INTER-OPERABILITY: the ontology may be used as a lingua franca into
  and from which disparately represented models or data bases may be

* REUSE and SHARING: a formal encoding of some generic domain, e.g.
  time, or resource modelling may be directly inserted into various
  software systems, (e.g.  knowledge base modules using Ontolingua)

* SPECIFICATION: an ontology for a domain for which IT systems will be
  developed may serve as part of the specification for such IT system.
  In such cases, the same ontology may serve purpose 1 (Communication)
  [Aside: Indeed it is often the case that understanding gained from
  analysis for the purpose of produce an IT system results in deciding that
  no IT system is needed!  The greater understanding justifies the effort.]
  Task ontologies (alias process/activity models) are frequently used in
  this mode.  A good example of this is the Kactus project
  See: (second
        paper) for an excellent description of wnat an ontology is and
        how they are used.