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Re: [ALL,VM] Vocabulary Management Task Force Description - discussion draft

From: Alan Rector <rector@cs.man.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 09:16:02 +0100
Message-ID: <40CD5EC2.2E688C16@cs.man.ac.uk>
To: Thomas Baker <thomas.baker@izb.fraunhofer.de>
Cc: SW Best Practices <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>


Thanks for this.  There are thre related questions I would put up for consideration - that need to be considered here or elsewhere and I think this may be the place.

1)    "Term" vs "Concept".  The medical community has a long tradition of carefully distinguishing the name from the representation of the concept/thing. This goes through almost all the major vocabularies - UMLS (CUIs = Concept Unique Identifier vs LUIs = Lexical Unique Identifiers vs even SUIs String Unique Identifiers  - although many think those should have been handled differently. SNOMED, its ancestor Read, ICD (sort of), HL7 (the main standards body), GALEN and all new developments.  Separating Term and Concept is probably the most important thing the medical community has learnt from its experience and something takes as a sine qua non of good practice.  I think some recognition of this issue in SW is needed.  The owl:labels annotation is one first step. However, I don't think it adequate to cover all the use cases (e.g. preferred terms vs synonyms/alternative terms for the same concept etc. within as well as between linguistic communities).

2)    "What constitutes a change" - this seemingly simple question has been very difficult to answer, especially in any ontology expected to be used with a reasoner. It can only be answered with respect to 1) - when is something just a change in naming and when is it a change in substance. 

3)    "What is the granularity of change" - the entire ontology? individuals terms/concepts? Some intermediate?

This distinction may not be relevant to all communities, but at a minimum it needs to be recognised as critical to some.



Thomas Baker wrote:

> Discussion draft, 2004-06-12
> SWBPD "Vocabulary Management" Task Force Description
>     Vocabulary Management
>     Considered
>     Tom Baker and ?
>     Libby Miller
>     Natasha Noy
>     Dan Brickley
>     Alistair Miles ("al")?
>     Alan Rector ("alan")?
>     James Hendler ("jim")?
>     Ralph Swick (maybe)
>     The goal of this Task Force is to describe best practice for
>     declaring and managing terms and term sets (vocabularies)
>     for use in a Semantic Web environment.  Specifically, the
>     Task Force will describe the following:
>     -- Identification of terms with URIs
>        -- Term-related entities identified: eg, a term concept,
>           a historical version of a term, a set of terms.
>           Possibly: a set of terms declared elsewhere and
>           "reused" in an "application profile".
>        -- Formation of URI strings: eg, "implied semantics",
>           "# versus /", version numbers in URI strings.
>        -- Versioning of terms ("change management"): event-
>           based model linking chains of "term versions" to a
>           "term concept" [DCMI-VERSIONING].  Analogy to W3C
>           practice for identifying document versions?
>     -- Policies for term declaration and identification
>        -- Term-identification policy: eg, "namespace policy"
>           [DCMI-NAMESPACE], expectations about persistence,
>           maintenance, institutional commitment, semantic
>           stability.
>        -- "Assertion etiquette" ("good neighbor" policies):
>           eg, if DCMI and Library of Congress mutually assert
>           a subPropertyOf relationship between MARC Relator
>           codes with respect to dc:contributor.
>        -- "If we want to declare a term but lack the
>           institutional context appropriate to a persistent
>           namespace policy, how can we do it?  Should I use an
>           existing term, get DCMI to declare one, or declare
>           my own?  How can I coin a URI?  Where would I put it?"
>     -- Documenting terms
>        -- What should term URIs "resolve to" (eg, TAG
>           recommendations with regard to RDF or RDDL)?
>        -- What are minimum expectations with regard to
>           availability of HTML Web pages, RDF schemas,
>           and the like?  Who can we point to that does it
>           right?
>        -- Is there a notion of "canonical" versus "derived"
>           sources?
>        -- Hints for work flow to maintain multiple
>           documentation forms in synch.
>     The issues above have been discussed and documented in various
>     vocabulary maintenance communities.  The Task Force deliverable
>     should provide an overview of the issues involved in declaring
>     and maintaining a vocabulary, pointing to available examples
>     of good practice and summarizing their underlying principles.
>     Beyond the areas outlined above (URIs, Policies,
>     Documentation), additional issues are relevant but possibly
>     beyond the scope of the Task Force deliverable:
>     -- Describing terms: What attributes do terms have, and how
>        important is it for interoperability to use existing
>        attribute sets?
>     -- Application profiles: Is it valid and useful to distinguish
>        between a "term declaration" and a "term re-use" -- eg,
>        in annotations or "application profiles"?
>     -- Thesauri and ontologies: What types of "vocabulary"
>        are there (eg, "metadata element sets", "thesauri",
>        "ontologies") and to which do these guidelines apply?
>     These issues should perhaps be discussed within the Task
>     Force deliverable itself in the form of a scope statement,
>     when possible with pointers to other relevant documents.
>     A relatively concise technical note summarizing
>     principles of good practice, with pointers to examples,
>     about the identification of terms and term sets with URIs,
>     related policies and etiquette, and expectations regarding
>     documentation.
>     -- Maintainers of terms and term sets (vocabularies) for use in a
>        Semantic Web environment.
>     -- Anyone else wishing to declare terms reusably.
>     -- THES - SWBP Thesaurus Task Force
>        http://www.w3.org/2004/03/thes-tf/mission
>     -- FOAF
>        http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/
>     -- SKOS - SWAD Europe
>        http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe/reports/thes/1.0/guide/
>     -- Dublin Core - DCMI
>        http://dublincore.org/documents/dcmi-namespace/
>        http://dublincore.org/documents/dcmi-terms/
>     -- Dublin Core - CEN MMI-DC Working Group
>        http://www.bi.fhg.de/People/Thomas.Baker/Versioning-20040611.txt
>        http://www.cenorm.be/isss/cwa14855/
>     -- Image Annotation meeting in Madrid
>        http://rdfig.xmlhack.com/2004/06/07/2004-06-07.html#1086615887.400193
>     [DCMI-NAMESPACE] http://dublincore.org/documents/dcmi-namespace/
>     [DCMI-VERSIONING] http://www.bi.fhg.de/People/Thomas.Baker/Versioning-20040611.txt
> --
> Dr. Thomas Baker                        Thomas.Baker@izb.fraunhofer.de
> Institutszentrum Schloss Birlinghoven         mobile +49-160-9664-2129
> Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft                          work +49-30-8109-9027
> 53754 Sankt Augustin, Germany                    fax +49-2241-144-2352
> Personal email: thbaker79@alumni.amherst.edu

Alan L Rector
Professor of Medical Informatics
Department of Computer Science
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL, UK
TEL: +44-161-275-6188/6149/7183
FAX: +44-161-275-6236/6204
Room: 2.88a, Kilburn Building
email: rector@cs.man.ac.uk
web: www.cs.man.ac.uk/mig
Received on Monday, 14 June 2004 04:16:05 UTC

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