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

Roger Hyam roger at tdwg.org
Wed Feb 22 16:50:25 CET 2006

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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