- File Size: 7798 KB
- Print Length: 415 pages
- Publisher: Springer (April 18, 2006)
- Publication Date: April 18, 2006
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001CB9M4Q
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,067,525 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Ontological Engineering: with examples from the areas of Knowledge Management, e-Commerce and the Semantic Web. First Edition (Advanced Information and Knowledge Processing) Kindle Edition
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A large portion of the book describes the acute problem of somehow extracting meaning in a programmatic manner from data. Because the manual making of an ontology simply does not seem to scale, given the realities of gigabyte databases. We see that there is a natural decomposition of the problem into a linguistic step and a conceptual step. The former is tied to a particular human language. The latter is the nut of the problem. Current methods look promising, but are certainly not the last word.
In the information age however, ontology has become a word that has taken on enormous practical significance. Business and scientific research are both areas that have increasingly relied on information technology not only to organize information but also to analyze data and make accurate predictions. In addition, financial constraints have forced many businesses to automate most of their internal processes, and this automation has brought about its own unique challenges. This push to automation usually involves being able to differentiate one thing from another, or one collection of data from another, or one concept from another. Thus one needs to think about questions of ontology, and this (very practical) need has brought about the rise of the field of `ontological engineering', which is the topic of this book.
The authors have given a good general overview of the different approaches to the creation of ontologies. There are many of them, some of which seem "natural", while others seem more esoteric. The reader though will obtain an objective discussion of the ontologies that the authors chose to include in the book. Discussions of the ones that are not included can readily be found on the Internet.
Given the plethora of ontologies that have been invented, it would be of interest to the ontological engineer to find common ground between them. The re-use of a particular ontology may be stymied by the different ontological commitments it is adhering to or it's actual content. In order to use it, it must therefore be "re-engineered". The authors discuss this prospect in the book, and define `ontological re-engineering' as the process where a conceptual model of an implemented ontology is transformed into one that is more suitable. The code in which the ontology is written is first reverse engineered, and then the conceptual model is reorganized into the new one. The new conceptual model is then implemented.
Also discussed in the book, and of enormous practical interest, is the automation of the ontology building process. Called `ontology learning' by the authors, they discuss a few of the ways in which this could take place. One of these methods concerns ontology learning using a `corpus of texts', and involves being able to distinguish between the `linguistic' and `conceptual' levels. Knowledge at the linguistic level is described in linguistic terms, while at the conceptual level in terms of concepts and the relations between them. Ontology learning is thus dependent on how the linguistic structures are exemplified in the conceptual level. Relations at the conceptual level for example could be extracted from sequences of words in the text that conform to a certain pattern. Another method comes from data mining and involves the use of association rules to find relations between concepts. The authors discuss two well-known methods for ontology learning from texts. Both of these methods are interesting in that they can apparently learn in contexts or environments that are not domain-specific. Being able to learn over different domains is very important from the standpoint of the artificial intelligence community and these methods are a step in that direction. The processes of `alignment', `merging', and `cooperative construction' of ontologies that are discussed in the book are also of great interest in artificial intelligence, since they too will be of assistance in the attempt to design a machine that can reason over multiple domains.
The ontologies that are actually built are of course not unique. This results in a kind of semantic or cognitive relativism between the environments that might be built on different ontologies, even in the same domain. Merging and alignment both address this relativism, along with other techniques that are discussed in the book. The selection of the actual language that is used to create an ontology is also somewhat arbitrary. The authors devote a fair amount of space in the book to the different languages that have been used to build ontologies. Through an elementary example, they discuss eleven different languages, namely KIF, Ontolingua, LOOM, OCML, Flogic, SHOE, XOL, RDF(S), OIL, DAML+OIL, and OWL. The choice of a language is dictated by what one is seeking in terms of `expressiveness' and what kind of reasoning patterns are to be deployed when using the ontology. The authors point to a tradeoff between the expressive power of the language and the reasoning patterns that are attached to the language. The expressiveness of a language is directly proportional to the complexity of the reasoning patterns that are used.
Ontological engineering as it presently exists is still carried out by a human engineer. To create an ontology every time from scratch would be tedious, and so it is no surprise that tools were invented to make ontology creation more straightforward. Some of these tools are discussed in the book, such as KAON, OilEd, Ontolingua, OntoSaurus, Protege-2000, WebODE, and WebOnto, along with assessments as to their utility. The discussion is helpful for newcomers to ontological engineering who need guidance as to what direction to take. The automation of ontology building would of course be a major advance. To accomplish this however would require that the machine be able to simultaneously and recursively construct the knowledge base and reason over it effectively. This is a formidable challenge indeed.
I was disappointed only when I learnt that the book will not cover Ontology learning tools. The author argues for limiting the scope of the book. I feel the book would have been more valuable had it contained at least an overview of the learning tools!
This book was the subject of a book club where I and a small group of software engineers wanted to learn more about ontologies. Most of the members of the group had some experience with ontology languages. In each one-hour lunch session, we were not able to discuss more than 10 pages at a time due to the complexity of the writing and the subject matter. We finally gave up and none of us has finished the book. Although we read over half of the book before giving up, we gained no practical knowledge from it whatsoever.