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Re: ontology specs for self-publishing experiment

From: Alan Rector <rector@cs.man.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 16:37:21 +0100
Message-Id: <31A38F44-187E-49A5-860B-57DF4A595DD1@cs.man.ac.uk>
Cc: "w3c semweb hcls" <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>
To: Phillip Lord <phillip.lord@newcastle.ac.uk>

On 10 Jul 2006, at 11:42, Phillip Lord wrote:

>>>>>> "AR" == Alan Rector <rector@cs.man.ac.uk> writes:
>   AR> All
>   AR> Just catching up.
>   AR> Could I strongly support the following.  If there is one
>   AR> repeatedly confirmed lesson from the medical communities
>   AR> experience with large terminologies/ontologies/ it is to
>   AR> separate the "terms" from the "entities".  ...
> Not that I wish to disagree with Alan, of course, but it is worth
> mentioning the reason that so many identifiers are semantically
> meaningful in biology; they look better in papers. More over, because
> they have some meaning associated with them, they are likely to be
> used correct in papers as biologists will notice when they have the
> wrong one.

I am not against having human readable, standard names. To the  
contrary, I think they are essential.  But I would avoid them as  
primary identifiers.  For example, try editing a set of modular  
ontologies held together by just the string names.  Every time  
somebody wants to change a name, fix a spelling error, etc. there is  
a global change that is intrinsically unreliable or, if the  
ontologies are distributed, requires a major organisational effort.   
If the true identifiers are meaningless ID numbers and meaningful  
names are labels, things are much easier.  You can change the label  
without disturbing the linkages.  (Protege-OWl now supports this.   
With the switches set correctly, you should not notice most of the  
time that you are using labels rather than identifiers.  New versions  
will smooth off the rough edges.)



> Phil

Alan Rector
Professor of Medical Informatics
School of Computer Science
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL, UK
TEL +44 (0) 161 275 6149/6188
FAX +44 (0) 161 275 6204
Received on Monday, 10 July 2006 15:37:43 UTC

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