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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Representing real-world semantics in OWL ontologies Krasnoperova, Anna Vladimirovna


The emergence of the Semantic Web as a future of the World Wide Web has created a strong interest in information system (IS) ontologies as a means of representing - in a formal and machine readable form - the knowledge about various domains, and the semantics of heterogeneous web sources in particular. For effective representation, sharing and reuse of real world domain knowledge, an IS ontology needs to properly convey beliefs about the real world. However, as the focus of IS ontologies is often on formalization and machine-readability, the question arises as to how well IS ontologies or ontology development languages allow the representation of a real world domain. The OWL Web Ontology Language is an ontology development language recently proposed by the World Wide Web Consortium as one of the key components of the Semantic Web. Prior research identified several potential weaknesses of OWL in its ability to represent knowledge about real world domains, which may lead to limited expressiveness, ambiguity, inconsistency and lack of stability of representations. It suggested ways to improve the expressiveness of OWL by associating it with a philosophical ontology that deals with what exists in the real world. This thesis continues research in that direction. It uses an established philosophical ontology - Bunge's ontology - for developing modeling rules and guidelines on how to better represent real world domains in OWL. The study conducts a comparative analysis of the key constructs of Bunge's ontology (things, properties, interactions, classes and composition) and the related OWL constructs, so as to propose a representation mapping between these constructs. Through the transfer of ontological assumptions of Bunge's ontology, this thesis develops general modeling guidelines and specific rules on how to model real world domain elements in OWL ontologies. In addition, this thesis proposes a meta-model - a set of high-level domain independent OWL classes and properties for OWL ontologies of real world domains - to facilitate the application of the proposed guidelines and to clarify the semantics of domain specific elements of ontologies. The applicability and the process of applying the proposed modeling approach are illustrated by specific examples.

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