Using philosophy to improve the coherence and interoperability of applications ontologies: A field report on the collaboration of IFOMIS and L&C

In Proceedings of the First Workshop on Philosophy and Informatics. Deutsches Forschungs­zentrum für künstliche Intelligenz, Cologne: 2004 (CEUR Workshop Proceedings 112). pp. 65-72 (2004)
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The collaboration of Language and Computing nv (L&C) and the Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science (IFOMIS) is guided by the hypothesis that quality constraints on ontologies for software ap-plication purposes closely parallel the constraints salient to the design of sound philosophical theories. The extent of this parallel has been poorly appreciated in the informatics community, and it turns out that importing the benefits of phi-losophical insight and methodology into application domains yields a variety of improvements. L&C’s LinKBase® is one of the world’s largest medical domain ontologies. Its current primary use pertains to natural language processing ap-plications, but it also supports intelligent navigation through a range of struc-tured medical and bioinformatics information resources, such as SNOMED-CT, Swiss-Prot, and the Gene Ontology (GO). In this report we discuss how and why philosophical methods improve both the internal coherence of LinKBase®, and its capacity to serve as a translation hub, improving the interoperability of the ontologies through which it navigates.
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