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What is Ontology?

By   /  August 28, 2017  /  No Comments

ontologyOntology is a subset of Taxonomy, an Ontology: Is a Domain; contains more information about the behavior of entities and the relationships between them; includes formal names, definitions and attributes of entities; and, may be constructed using OWL, the Ontology Web Language from the W3C.

Other Definitions of Ontology Include:


  • “A data model that represents a set of concepts within a domain and the relationships among those concepts.” (Microsoft)
  • “More complex and quite formal collection of terms.” (W3C)
  • “A way to represent our knowledge on a specific topic that also allows us to share information using a common language.” (NIH)
  • “Describe and classify the entities of interest in a scientific domain in a computationally accessible fashion such that algorithms and tools can be developed around them.” (PubMed)

Businesses apply Ontologies to:

  • “Harmonize data across repositories in a common language for an industry.” (e.g. FIBO)
  • To share a common understanding of the structure of information among people or software agents.
  • To enable reuse of domain.
  • Understand the how the usage of a term has changed over time and thus placing a term in context.
  • To allow machines to apply more efficient Deep Learning techniques and learn better independently.

Ontologies factor the thinking about how a domain influences: choices of maps and models, rules and representations, and required operations. Using taxonomies, alone, just does not model this type of thinking well.

Ontology Examples:

Map of the United States including Winslow Park in Connecticut

Directions to Winslow Park

The Winslow Park area

Image Credits: Adrian Bowles (Smart Data Webinar Slides)

Photo Credit: AlexeiLogvinovich/Shutterstock.com



About the author

Michelle Knight enjoys putting her information specialist background to use by writing technical articles on enhancing Data Quality, lending to useful information. Michelle has written articles on W3C validator for SiteProNews, SEO competitive analysis for the SLA (Special Libraries Association), Search Engine alternatives to Google, for the Business Information Alert, and Introductions on the Semantic Web, HTML 5, and Agile, Seabourne INC LLC, through AboutUs.com. She has worked as a software tester, a researcher, and a librarian. She has over five years of experience, contracting as a quality assurance engineer at a variety of organizations including Intel, Cigna, and Umpqua Bank. During that time Michelle used HTML, XML, and SQL to verify software behavior through databases Michelle graduated, from Simmons College, with a Masters in Library and Information with an Outstanding Information Science Student Award from the ASIST (The American Society for Information Science and Technology) and has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Smith College. Michelle has a talent for digging into data, a natural eye for detail, and an abounding curiosity about finding and using data effectively.

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