Towards Industrial Strength Philosophy: How Analytical Ontology Can Help Medical Informatics

Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 28 (2):106–111 (2003)
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Initially the problems of data integration, for example in the field of medicine, were resolved in case by case fashion. Pairs of databases were cross-calibrated by hand, rather as if one were translating from French into Hebrew. As the numbers and complexity of database systems increased, the idea arose of streamlining these efforts by constructing one single benchmark taxonomy, as it were a central switchboard, into which all of the various classification systems would need to be translated only once. By serving as a lingua franca for database integration this benchmark taxonomy would ensure that all databases calibrated in its terms would be automatically compatible with each other. We describe one strategy for creating such a lingua franca, in which philosophical ontology plays a central role.

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Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo


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