A Framework for Assessing Commensurability of Semantic Web Ontologies


  • Liam Magee


ontology matching, commensurability, knowledge-producing cultures


The Semantic Web proposes a framework for establishing a "web of data", analogous to the "web of documents" of the World Wide Web. It envisions a series of interconnected ontologies, underwritten by formal languages such as OWL and RDF. The problem of co‑ordinating disparate ontologies has led to the development of various ontology matching approaches. However, as these approaches are algorithmic they cannot make use of background or tacit information about the ontologies they examine — information only available in the broader social context in which ontologies are created and used. In many practical knowledge management scenarios, such information is vital in understanding the costs, feasibility and scope of ontology alignment projects. Prior to undertaking the detailed task of concept‑to‑concept mapping between two ontologies, it is therefore useful to ask: are these ontologies broadly commensurable? This paper presents a framework for describing and comparing cultural information about ontologies, developed as part of a joint project conducted by RMIT University and FujiXerox Australia, "Towards the 'Semantic Web': Standards and Interoperability across Document Management and Publishing Supply Chains". The framework is intended for practitioners to use as a tool to arrive at better estimates and assessments of the scope of work required to develop an adequate translation between two or more ontologies. The framework has been piloted as an online software toolkit, which is presented to a small group of participants. After using the software, participants complete an evaluation, which elicits quantitative and qualitative feedback on both the framework and the software. The paper presents the results of the pilot testing process, along with some considerations of how the framework might be further improved.



1 Jan 2010