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[SKOS] new issue on using SKOS in (OWL) ontologies?

From: Antoine Isaac <aisaac@few.vu.nl>
Date: Sat, 16 Jun 2007 20:32:22 +0200
Message-ID: <46742CB6.7020604@few.vu.nl>
To: SWD WG <public-swd-wg@w3.org>

Hi,

In the light of my destroying the issue sandbox and of some recent 
discussion on the working group and elsewhere, I feel that the issues of 
OWL and SKOS coexistence is still not completely rendered in the 
existing issues, and would like to discuss it in one of the next teleconf.

The current issue regarding OWL-DL and SKOS, named 
"CompatibilityWithOWL-DL" [1] reads: "What are best practices for using 
the SKOS vocabulary within the constraints
required for OWL-DL compatibility?". To me, the main question behind 
that was "can the SKOS model be encoded as an OWL-DL ontology?", which 
is the way it is more-or-less put in the corresponding requirement from 
the use case draft [2]

Yet there is another problem, which is the use of SKOS in ontologies 
(OWL or simple RDFS) so as to define ontology classes (or instances of 
classes) by means of SKOS features.

This could be the case for example if for whatever purposes (ontology 
population from texts for example) an ontology designer wants to use 
more types of labels than what the single rdfs:label allows for standard 
ontologies. Or to insert existing owl:Class (e.g. exOnt:Planet) and 
instances (exOnt:Venus) into a thesaurus-like thematic structure 
(exOntVenus skos:broader exOntPlanet, exOnt:Planet skos:broader 
exTh:Astronomy), which could be very useful to develop browsers more 
useful for humans.
I presented SKOS to a biomedical workshop this week, and it seems that 
some people had the wish to use SKOS, but on 'real' ontologies they were 
developing. And my discussion with Daniel also made me think this was 
what he had in mind (but now I'm really not sure) when he said:
"There are certainly communities who need to describe things, names of 
things, and both (in the case of RadLex). Ideally, SKOS should be able 
to be useful to these communities" [3]

To put things clearly right now: I don't think this is a absolute 
requirement for SKOS, and indeed it could be dangerous to treat it in 
this working group, because it is difficult and it could make the whole 
picture of using SKOS fuzzier and tangled with ontology design 
considerations.

However I think it is important to acknowledge the issue, because I 
think it is important (if just to enable people to make one big, 
definitive and exclusive choice between OWL and SKOS). Just trying to 
hide the corpse in the cupboard would not be really professional, I 
guess ;-)

Additionally, the resolution of such an issue might in the end just 
require writing some guidelines. Saying for example that it is legal to 
use SKOS features to define ontology classes from a SKOS perspective, 
giving some example, but warning that the process may cause the 
resulting ontology to be OWL-Full, because OWL classes could be inferred 
to be instances of the class skos:Concept because of some statements [4].

What do you think of it?

Cheers,

Antoine


[1] http://www.w3.org/2006/07/SWD/track/issues/38
[2] 
http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/WD-skos-ucr-20070516/#R-CompatibilityWithOWL-DL
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-swd-wg/2007May/0075.html
[4] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-swd-wg/2007Jun/0021.html
Received on Saturday, 16 June 2007 18:32:23 GMT

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