Faculty of Computer Science

Research Group Theoretical Computer Science

Oberseminar: Heterogene formale Methoden

Date: 2018, April 11
Author: Neuhaus, Fabian
Title: What is an Ontology?


In 1992 Tom Gruber proposed the definition of an ontology as “An ontology is a specification of a conceptualization”. Several variants exists that usually added adjectives further describing the specification (e.g., “formal”, “explicit”) or the conceptualization (e.g., “shared”) ). All of these definitions are not helpful because they violate one of the basic rules for good definitions: The defining statement (the definiens) should be clearer than the term that is defined (the definiendum). Given that “conceptualization” is murkier concept than “ontology”, any attempt of defining “ontology” as a kind of “specification of a conceptualization” is an intellectual placebo: it makes us feel like it provides a better grasp of the nature of ontologies, but there is no intellectual progress. The presentation contains two major parts: a discussion of some of the phenomena a proper definition of ontology should be able to explain and a proposal for a better definition of “ontology”.
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