on May 13, 2011 by in Articles, Under Review, Comments (0)

generalisation Statements in Ontologies


Inn this kblog we talk about statements that are generalisations about a domain, but are not universally true. Much of domain knowledge can fall into this category of statement and it is important to understand that it exists and the issues involved in its representation.


Robert Stevens and Alan Rector
bioHealth Informatics Group
School of Computer Science
University of Manchester
United Kingdom
M13 9PL


As already said, if ontologies are about anything at all, then they are concerned with universal statements about individuals or objects of a field or domain. However, if we are to capture a broad set of useful knowledge about a domain, then we have to capture knowledge about that domain that doesn’t conform to this strrict criterion. In contrast to the universal statements, where the thing said is true of “all” individuals of a class, we are also concerned with statements that are “mostly” true or “usually” true of those objects. Strictly speaking such knowledge is not ontological, but it is useful, so we do talk about it here. Such statements are another form of statements in an ontology.

We might want some of these “non-universal” statements to capture domain knowledge in our ontology (sic)- information is sometimes or typically but not universally true. For example, “The first line treatment for pneumococcal pneumonia is amoxicillin” or “Rales are evidence for pneumonia”. biology is rife with such examples.

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