[Tdwg-tag] Object Model / Ontology Management - how we kick it off.

Donald Hobern dhobern at gbif.org
Wed Feb 22 17:23:43 CET 2006



One slight extension/modification I would like to see is that I would really
like to see the polymorphism more like Java interface implementation than
Java class extension (i.e. "multiple inheritance" may be a good thing if
suitably controlled, e.g. by namespaces).  My point here is that I want it
to be easy for our data providers to make use of all relevant polymorphisms
(extensions) when serving their data.  Darwin Core is my model here.  If we
develop a range of extension vocabularies to augment Darwin Core in
describing a taxon occurrence, providers should be able to serve data
including any subset of those vocabularies.


This may be so obvious as not to need saying, but I wanted to be sure it was


By the way, I thoroughly agree with your other points and believe that we
should focus on the small shared vocabulary you describe.  If we define
these anchor points, subgroups can address everything that we need to flesh
out these classes for use in applications (including defining properties
that relate their objects to objects of other classes).





Donald Hobern (dhobern at gbif.org)
Programme Officer for Data Access and Database Interoperability 
Global Biodiversity Information Facility Secretariat 
Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45-35321483   Mobile: +45-28751483   Fax: +45-35321480


From: Tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org
[mailto:Tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of Roger Hyam
Sent: 22 February 2006 16:50
To: Tdwg-tag at lists.tdwg.org
Subject: [Tdwg-tag] Object Model / Ontology Management - how we kick it off.


Hi All,

It is generally agreed that we need an representation independent object
model or ontology of some kind. I would like to put together a list of the
things that need to be agreed or investigated in order to do this.

Firstly the things I believe we can all agree on (stop me if I am wrong).

1.	It should be representation independent (i.e. we should be able to
move it between 'languages' UML, OWL, BNF etc).
2.	It should be dynamic (i.e. capable of evolving through time).
3.	It should be polymorphic. This is a result of it being dynamic.
There will, at a minimum, be multiple version of any one part of the model
when new version are introduced.
4.	It should NOT attempt to be omniscient i.e. it will not cover
everything in our domain, only the parts that need to be communicated.
5.	It will be managed in a distributed fashion. Different teams will
take responsibility for different parts of it.

My first Question is:

Does the centralization of the ontology need to go beyond a small shared
vocabulary of terms or base classes? 

I envisage this ontology containing things like Collection, Specimen,
TaxonConcept, TaxonName but not defining the detailed structure of these
objects. It would contain a maximum of a few 10's of objects and properties.
TDWG subgroups would be responsible for building ontologies that extend
these base objects but that generally didn't refer to each other - only to
the core. If this is true then I think the definition of the top level
object falls within the remit of the TAG ( in consultation with others). 

If this is not a valid way forward what are the alternatives?

Are their questions we should ask before this one?

Once again I'd be grateful for your thoughts.


 Roger Hyam
 Technical Architect
 Taxonomic Databases Working Group
 roger at tdwg.org
 +44 1578 722782
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