next up previous
Next: Introduction

Engineering Ontologies (short version)

Pim Borst tex2html_wrap_inline939 - Hans Akkermans tex2html_wrap_inline939 tex2html_wrap_inline943 - Jan Top tex2html_wrap_inline945

tex2html_wrap_inline939 University of Twente
Information Systems Department INF/IS
P.O. Box 217, NL-7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
E-mail: {borst, akkerman}

tex2html_wrap_inline945 Agro-Technological Research Organization ATO-DLO
P.O. Box 17, NL-6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands

tex2html_wrap_inline943 Netherlands Energy Research Foundation ECN
P.O. Box 1, NL-1755 ZG Petten (NH), The Netherlands

Short version of an article to appear in the
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Special Issue on Using Explicit Ontologies in KBS Development


We analyze the construction as well as the role of ontologies in knowledge sharing and reuse for complex industrial applications. In this article, the practical use of ontologies in large-scale applications not restricted to knowledge-based systems is demonstrated, for the domain of engineering systems modelling, simulation and design. A general and formal ontology, called PHYSSYS, for dynamic physical systems is presented and its structuring principles are discussed. The PHYSSYS ontology provides the foundation for the conceptual database schema of a library of reusable engineering model components, covering a variety of disciplines such as mechatronics and thermodynamics, and a full-scale numerical simulation experiment on this basis has been carried out, pertaining to an existing large hospital heating installation. From the application scenario, several general guidelines and experiences emerge. It is possible to identify various viewpoints that are seen as natural within a large domain: broad and stable conceptual distinctions that give rise to a categorization of concepts and properties. This provides a first mechanism to break up ontologies into smaller pieces with strong internal coherence but relatively loose coupling, thus reducing ontological commitments. Secondly, we show how general and abstract ontological `super'theories, for example mereology, topology, graph theory and systems theory, can be used and reused as generic building blocks in ontology construction. We believe that this is an important element in knowledge sharing across domains. Thirdly, we introduce ontology projections as a flexible means to connect different base ontologies. Ontology projections can occur in simple forms such as include-and-extend and include-and-specialize, but are in their richest form very knowledge-intensive, being in fact themselves full-blown ontological theories.

next up previous
Next: Introduction

Pim Borst
Fri Sep 27 13:28:43 MET DST 1996