The use of foundational ontologies in ontology development: an empirical assessment

Presented at: 8th Extended Semantic Web Conference (ESWC2011)

by C. Maria Keet

There is an assumption that ontology developers will use a top-down approach by using a foundational ontology, because it purportedly speeds up ontology development and improves quality and interoperability of the domain ontology. Informal assessment of these assumption reveals ambiguous results that are not only open to different interpretations but also such that foundational ontology use is not included in several methodologies. Therefore, we investigated these assumptions in a controlled experiment. After a brief lecture about the contents of DOLCE, BFO, and part-whole relations, one-third chose to commence domain ontology development with an OWLized foundational ontology. Concerning new classes and class axioms, there is a trend in favour of those who commenced with a foundational ontology, but it is not statistically significant. The comprehensive results show that the `cost' incurred in spending time getting acquainted with a foundational ontology compared to starting from scratch was more than made up for in size, understandability, and interoperability already within the limited time frame of the experiment.

Keywords: experimental vaildation, foundational ontologies, ontology reuse, top-down ontology development

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