Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On ontologies

The latest issue of the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies is a special issue on the role of ontologies in knowledge representation.

For a list of all publications in the issue, see here.

These are the two papers I found interesting:

Knowledge representation with ontologies: Present challenges—Future possibilities
Christopher Brewster and Kieron O’Hara

Abstract: Ontologies have become the knowledge representation medium of choice in recent years for a range of computer science specialities including the Semantic Web, Agents, and Bio-informatics. There has been a great deal of research and development in this area combined with hype and reaction. This special issue is concerned with the limitations of ontologies and how these can be addressed, together with a consideration of how we can circumvent or go beyond these constraints. The introduction places the discussion in context and presents the papers included in this issue.

Knowledge representation with ontologies: Present challenges—Future possibilities
Christopher Brewster and Kieron O’Hara

Abstract: In information systems that support knowledge-discovery applications such as scientific exploration, reliance on highly structured ontologies as data-organization aids can be limiting. With current computational aids to science work, the human knowledge that creates meaning out of analyses is often only recorded when work reaches publication—or worse, left unrecorded altogether—for lack of an ontological model for scientific concepts that can capture knowledge as it is created and used. We argue for an approach to representing scientific concepts that reflects (1) the situated processes of science work, (2) the social construction of knowledge, and (3) the emergence and evolution of understanding over time. In this model, knowledge is the result of collaboration, negotiation, and manipulation by teams of researchers. Capturing the situations in which knowledge is created and used helps these collaborators discover areas of agreement and discord, while allowing individual inquirers to maintain different perspectives on the same information. The capture of provenance information allows historical trails of reasoning to be reconstructed, allowing end users to evaluate the utility and trustworthiness of knowledge representations. We present a proof-of-concept system, called Codex, based on this situated knowledge model. Codex supports visualization of knowledge structures through concept mapping, and enables inference across those structures. The proof-of-concept is deployed in the domain of geoscience to support distributed teams of learners and researchers.

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