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Re: UML-OWL Generator, A product to convert UML into OWL

From: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.manchester.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 4 May 2009 20:46:54 +0100
Cc: public-owl-dev@w3.org
Message-Id: <F439B9E1-214F-456D-9E0A-227BB2413E2A@cs.manchester.ac.uk>
To: Elisa Kendall <ekendall@sandsoft.com>
Thanks Elisa. That's very interested. As you know, my brain seems to  
resist UML, so these sorts of discussions are helpful indeed.

On 4 May 2009, at 20:24, Elisa Kendall wrote:

> Hi Bijan,
> Bijan Parsia wrote:
>> On 4 May 2009, at 16:41, Elisa Kendall wrote:
> The analysis requires more than this as it turns out, there are a  
> number of patterns that tend to work at a high level,

The idea of higher level patterns is interesting. It seems like you  
might be able to infer them post translation.

> but many organizations have their own profiles, best practices,  
> preferred patterns, and so forth that are also relevant, in addition  
> to controlled vocabularies.

Sure. But then we're not really talking about *translating* UML are  
we? It's more like capturing (more of) the model with UML as the center.

>  UML is really very large, covering considerable ground on the  
> behavioral side, and there are also an increasing number of  
> metamodels and other profiles (e.g., SysML, SoaML, BPMN, etc.) that  
> are relevant to any transformation, particularly if customers apply  
> one or more of them to the model that they then want to transform to  
> OWL.  We did originally use some NLP capabilities to extract terms,  
> and may do so again, but even that has to be applied -after- you  
> understand the patterns in the model.  Most other UML-OWL  
> transformation approaches we've seen support logical models only --  
> the class diagrams, but there are several additional diagrams for  
> which the semantics are quite useful (e.g., use case diagrams, state  
> diagrams, component diagrams, etc.).

Sure, but again there seem to be different things one could do, e.g.,
	1) translate all *those* diagrams into their logical counterparts
	2) use those other diagrams to generate a *different* translation of  
the class diagrams than you would otherwise

It seems that you do 2.

>>> This was early work to tease out some of the issues, including the  
>>> need for not only a of the language metamodel but an ontology of  
>>> critical terminology in order to "do the right thing".
>> I guess I'm still not seeing what's special about the *technique*  
>> as so described. (Admittedly, the description is pretty sketchy.) I  
>> could see that the "ontology of critical terminology" might be  
>> valuable (since, presumably, it'd make or break the translation),  
>> but that seems to be something for copyright or a trade secret, not  
>> a matter of patent. I mean, do you think your patent covers *any*  
>> use of an auxiliary ontology in the translation?
> Yes -- it's integral, in fact.

I'm confused. So, if I translate a UML diagram into an OWL ontology  
and align that ontology to DOLCE, I infringe?

>>> We still use this approach in our tools, but have refined it  
>>> significantly since 2000/2001 when we did the original research,  
>>> as you might expect.
>> Is there a readable account, e.g., a whitepaper?
> Nothing that would provide the level of detail you're interested in  
> at this point - we haven't had the bandwidth to write one.  We're  
> talking with JPL about doing so later this summer, though, if we  
> have sufficient time and resources.  If we do, we'll certainly post  
> it or submit it to an appropriate conference.

Cool. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

>>> The approach covers the combination of the methodology and the  
>>> transformation to OWL (or other things).  It predates ODM  
>>> substantially, but our current work has been updated to support  
>>> parts of the standard.
>> I guess the question is whether one can use ODM without infringing  
>> on your patent. Or perhaps what one must not do to avoid  
>> infringement.
> There is nothing inherent in using ODM that would infringe on our  
> patent.  Many UML tools support importing UML profiles and allowing  
> users to apply them to their models, in fact.  It's only if one  
> wants to import/export OWL, from a UML tool, using a metamodel,  
> profile, and ontologies

This is one thing...

> in the way that we've done

...and this is the other. What I don't quite understand is what would  
be a way of doing it that isn't "the way you've done".  What you said  
above seems to make it that *any* use of an auxiliary ontology is  

> that there is a possibility of infringement.
>>> When we submitted our inputs to ODM (and since, with subsequent  
>>> updates to the standard), we agreed to license any relevant  
>>> patents to anyone who was interested at reasonable commercial  
>>> rates.  That would include the one you found.
>> Ok, so you selected "RAND" instead of "royalty free". If I wrote an  
>> XSLT that translated UML diagrams into OWL that is aligned with a  
>> foundational ontology (something along the lines of <http://www.sfu.ca/~dgasevic/projects/UMLtoOWL/ 
>> >) do I need a license?
> No.

Ok! But that seems to contradict the above. (This is very reassuring,  

>>> We are also planning to contribute some of the work to an emerging  
>>> Eclipse project, the Eclipse/MDT project, and hope to get the ODM  
>>> metamodels, profiles, and APIs out in the Galileo release coming  
>>> out next month, fyi.  None of those components require a license  
>>> to our patent from a usage perspective.
>> You mean that you've licensed to Eclipse the technology so they can  
>> distribute it? But if someone released a similar project (e.g., for  
>> NetBeans) they should come to you for a license?
> We're donating it to the Eclipse foundation under the Eclipse  
> license, and anyone can reuse it.  The pieces we are providing to  
> Eclipse will be royalty free, and are useful without requiring  
> application of our patent.


>> Does TopQuandrent have a license? Does their UML conversion infringe?
> They have not licensed our patent, but the last time I saw their  
> tool, they rendered diagrams that were (1) not really UML, although  
> they do use boxes and arrows, and (2) not editable.  Even if they  
> produce UML (more likely XMI) which can be imported into a UML tool,  
> they would likely not be infringing, but I'd have to understand what  
> they are doing better to be sure.

Ok! (This makes me more interested in what you're doing :))

>> Do you think the UML-OWL Generator at least *prima facie*  
>> infringes? If not, why not?  How about ICOM?
> The UML-OWL Generator -could- be infringing, but there is not enough  
> information available to be sure.  If it does, the patent examiner  
> will probably find it long before it publishes.  The one we worked  
> with was quite good, found a number of papers that helped him  
> understand what we were doing, the potential benefits, precise  
> wording of claims, etc.  I don't believe ICOM does (if it hasn't  
> changed substantially in the last couple of years).

The main change in ICOM 2 is that instead of ER diagrams it uses  
UML(ish?) class diagrams.
I believe it uses the standard mapping from UML to SHIQ.

Received on Monday, 4 May 2009 19:47:31 UTC

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