AM1: Ontology 101 – An Introduction to Knowledge Representation and Ontology Development
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  Elisa Kendall   Elisa Kendall
Thematix Partners LLC
  Deborah McGuinness   Deborah L McGuinness
Tetherless World Senior Constellation Chair and Professor at RPI and CEO McGuinness Associates Consu
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, McGuinness Associates Consulting


Tuesday, August 19, 2014
08:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Level:  Technical - Introductory

Effective communication requires a common vocabulary. An ontology provides a description of the terminology, concepts and relationships for a particular area of interest. Because well-designed ontologies provide a declarative encoding of the meaning of vocabulary terms, they can be critical to enabling communication among people and between machines.

Ten years ago, when we first started giving an early version of the tutorial, there were few in our audience who had ever heard “the o word”. Today is a very different story, though. Between tremendous and growing uptake of, development of sophisticated pharmacogenomics and related bioinformatics research, and increasing awareness of the need to address systemic issues in finance with current, rather than 1970s technology, our audiences are far more knowledgeable.

This tutorial provides an overview of the knowledge representation landscape and attempts to demystify some of the ‘black art’ of ontology development. We will outline basic methodology steps developed over time from a combination of:

  • Business requirements analysis derived from best practices in business architecture capability and value stream analysis
  • Domain analysis using business requirements adapted from software engineering
  • IDEF methods developed for the US Department of Defense
  • Best practices from Semantic Web colleagues as well as our own experience in building large, operational systems
Examples ranging from a successful effort to support docents volunteering in a historic garden to finance and healthcare will be covered, with a focus on the Web Ontology Language (OWL). We will touch on patterns, including some that can be extended through rule systems that reuse the ontologies, which dramatically improves rule set quality, reduces error, and increases manageability / understanding of the rules. We will also briefly cover appropriate use of OWL DL, other OWL 2 profiles, and more expressive languages such as RuleML, to help potential users understand both the power and limitations they impose on applications in making such choices. This tutorial provides a great introduction for those who are just beginning to “get their feet wet” in the field, and can be helpful in setting the stage for the rest of the conference.

Ms. Kendall has over 30 years professional experience in the design, development and deployment of enterprise-scale information management systems, emphasizing information architecture, ontology, and knowledge-based systems design. Her focus includes business and information architecture, knowledge representation strategies, and ontology development for clients in financial services, government, manufacturing, media, and travel domains. She has developed a number of best practices for marrying business architecture, conceptual modeling, and traditional software engineering with semantics to address complex information management issues. Elisa represents ontology and information architecture concerns on the Object Management Group (OMG)'s Architecture Board, is co-editor of the Ontology Definition Metamodel (ODM), and a contributor to a number of other OMG standards, including the Financial Industry Business Ontology (FIBO) effort.

Deborah McGuinness is the Tetherless World Senior Constellation Chair and Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science, and the founding director of the Web Science Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Deborah is a leading authority on the semantic web and has been working in knowledge representation and reasoning environments for over 25 years. Deborah's primary research thrusts include work on explanation, trust, ontologies, escience, open data, and semantically-enabled schema and data integration. Prior to joining RPI, Deborah was the acting director of the Knowledge Systems, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Senior Research Scientist in the Computer Science Department of Stanford University. Deborah is also widely known for her leading role in the development of the W3C Recommended Web Ontology Language (OWL) and her work on earlier description logic languages and environments. She has built and deployed numerous ontology environments and ontology-enhanced applications, including some that have been in continuous use for over a decade at AT&T and Lucent, and two that have won deployment awards for variation reduction on plant floors and interdisciplinary virtual observatories. She has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers and has authored granted patents in knowledge based systems, ontology environments, configuration, and search technology. Deborah received her Bachelors degree in Math and Computer Science from Duke University, her Masters degree in Computer Science from University of California at Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rutgers University.

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