Upper ontology

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Many of the original ideals of the project are now manifest in the techologies we see in use today. For example Distributed Hash Tables are now being used as semantic overlay networks. The new distributed computational spaces are now moving from older tuple space models to modern semantic triple-space or triple-store models using RDF triple-based structure as associations. All this is complemented by grid middleware technology which is built on exactly defined Service Level Agreements between all entities; Human, machine, resource, processes etc which allow the automated balanced reduction of workload.

The "supreme ultimate killer application" that seems to be trying to emerge from this whole semantic-p2p-grid-OS movement is nowadays a question about upper ontologies and whether or not there can be a single unified top level ontology.

An upper ontology (also called a top-level ontology, or foundation ontology) is an attempt to create an ontology which describes very general concepts that are the same across all domains of knowledge and organisation. The aim is to have a large number on ontologies accessible under this upper ontology. It is usually a hierarchy of entities and associated rules that attempts to describe those general entities that do not belong to a specific problem domain.

There are many contenders for the position as the most general top-level ontology, but surely all would be describing the same set of fundamental concepts? such as defining resources, processes, roles, relationships, space and time etc. So at the end of the day, one can just choose the upper ontology that suits the situation best and all patterns can be easily mapped across to other upper ontologies when necessary.

The direction of Organic Design in its goal of using the available technology to implement the principles of the project is shifted from development of the lower-level, to the modelling of the application using one of these new ontologies. The application to be modelled is an RDF-triple-space built on an existing DHT (probably Chimera). The processing layer reduces the workload generated by the interface which is a wiki-like organisational system with a lean towards more application-level content such as accounts and contacts rather than just text and media.

The question to be answered then is what is the best upper ontology to use? Here's some information on a couple of the key contenders, see the semantic web article for more links.

General Formal Ontology (GFO)

The GFO is an upper ontology integrating processes and objects. GFO has been developed by Heinrich Herre, Barbara Heller and collaborators (research group Onto-Med) in Leipzig. Although GFO provides one taxonomic tree, different axiom systems may be chosen for its modules. In this sense, GFO provides a framework for building custom, domain-specific ontologies. GFO exhibits a three-layered meta-ontological architecture consisting of an abstract top level, an abstract core level, and a basic level.

Suggested Upper Merged Ontology (SUMO)

SUMO and its domain ontologies form the largest formal public ontology in existence today. They are being used for research and applications in search, linguistics and reasoning. SUMO is the only formal ontology that has been mapped to all of the WordNet lexicon. SUMO is written in the SUO-KIF language. SUMO is free and owned by the IEEE. The ontologies that extend SUMO are available under GPL. Adam Pease is the Technical Editor of SUMO.