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Ontology concerns "what exists" (from Greek "ontos", or "being"). Ontology concerns itself with what kind of things really exist, the nature of existence, the fundamental elements of reality, etc. For example, a materialist ontology assumes that all actually existing things are material things, whereas a dualist ontology may assume that matter exists, but that humans also have a spiritual nature, which is of a different kind. Kantian ontology divides existence into categories such as space, time, number, etc.
The word can also mean a collection of concepts considered to be a summary of what things exist, and the relationships between different kinds of things. Aristotelian ontology is hierarchical, for instance, assuming that there are individual animals, grouped into "species", which are in turn grouped into varieties, and ultimately included under a "top level" category, which is "Animal".
Ontologies in computer science
Shared sets of explicitly defined terminology which provide a deeper level of meaning by providing equivalence relations between terms. Ontologies describe concepts rather than words.
Dictionary.com: The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being.
An ontology is "the specification of one's conceptualization of a knowledge domain." and is therefore a form of knowledge representation. It is the specs that formally defines relations among terms, eg., taxonomy and set of inference rules. Together they form a richer description of relationships between terms. A formal ontology is a controlled vocabulary expressed in an ontology representation language.
Ontology Inference Layer
This is a proposal for a web-based representation and inference layer for ontologies, which combines the widely used modelling primitives from frame-based languages with the formal semantics and reasoning services provided by description logics.
- What is an Ontology?
- Formal Ontology, Conceptual Analysis and Knowledge Representation by Nicola Guarino at Citeseer
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