A Survey of Top-level Ontologies
ISO IEC 21838-1:2019 – Documenting Coverage
Extract from: 2019 – ISO IEC 21838-1:2019 – Information technology – Top-Level Ontologies (TLO) – Part 1: Requirements – Section 4.4.6: Documentation demonstrating breadth of coverage (ISO, 2019, sec. 4.4.6).
4.4.6 Documentation demonstrating breadth of coverage
The ontology documentation shall provide answers to the questions listed in subclauses 22.214.171.124 –126.96.36.199. These answers shall document how the TLO would be used in managing data of the types addressed in each subclause. (Annex C provides examples of such documentation.)
In some TLOs data about entities of given classes or types would be managed by using terms included in the ontology representing those classes or types. Where a TLO does not include classes or types that cover one or more of the areas identified, it shall be documented how it will address corresponding data, for example, by specifying an additional ontology whose relation to the TLO is documented. NOTE The rationale for requiring breadth of coverage in a TLO is as follows. When an
ontology-based approach is adopted, for example, by a large organization in order to promote interoperability of the data systems within its constituent sub-organizations, the ontologies in question will be required to deal with an evolving collection of different sorts of data. These will include:
- data that is spatially and temporally referenced;
- data about entities that change over time;
- data that result from assays along multiple qualitative and quantitative dimensions;
- data reflecting mereological and other relations between such entities, including relations between entities and the material of which they are composed;
- data about data artefacts themselves (for example about designs, plans, requirements specifications).
If it is to have a high likelihood of being able to serve reliably as an over-arching framework for the management of data in such circumstances – even when new sorts of
data are being brought on stream – then a TLO requires a maximal breadth of coverage in the set of terms it includes. Similarly, a TLO should include relational expressions that enable representation of a broad range of relations among entities in its chosen categories. Various candidate TLOs have made different – and
sometimes incompatible – choices concerning these categories and relations. To show conformity to this document, these choices shall be documented in a way that will justify the claim that the ontology has a sufficiently broad coverage of categories and associated relations to satisfy the requirements of a TLO as defined by this document.
188.8.131.52 Space and time
How does the ontology deal with time, space and spacetime?
- Does the ontology recognize entities which persist in time?
- How does the ontology deal with entities which occur in time?
- Does the ontology recognize entities which are extended in both space and time?
- How does the ontology deal with spatial, temporal and spatiotemporal regions?
184.108.40.206 Actuality and possibility
How does the ontology deal with what could happen or what could be the case, rather than what is the case or has happened?
- How does the ontology deal with possibility?
- Does the ontology support both possible and actual entities?
- Does the ontology have a treatment of dispositions or tendencies?
- Does the ontology have a way of dealing with merely possible or potential entities as might be described in unrealized plans or designs?
220.127.116.11 Classes and types
How does the ontology deal with issues of classification?
- Does classification reflect the existence of certain relations of similarity between certain entities, or do classes or types exist as general entities in addition to particular instances?
- Are classes of classes allowed?
- Does the ontology distinguish between types
- and the classes of their instances?
- Are classes or types instantiated by the same particulars identical?
18.104.22.168 Time and change
How does the ontology deal with time and change?
- How does the ontology deal with the distinction between past, present and future entities? How does the ontology deal with identity and change of material objects
- over time? How does the ontology deal with location, and with change of location?
- Does the ontology allow for more than one material object to occupy exactly the same spatial location at the same time?
- How does the ontology deal with changeable properties, such as being a student?
Does the ontology recognize a distinction between classes or types that apply necessarily to a particular for the whole of its existence, and classes or types that apply only temporarily?
EXAMPLES Mammal is an example of a class or type that applies to a particular for the whole of its existence. An organism is an example of an entity that can undergo change over time, such as by losing hair, without changing identity.
22.214.171.124 Parts, wholes, unity and boundaries
How does the ontology deal with relations of parthood?
- If one entity is part of a second entity, and this entity part of a third entity, does it follow that the first entity is also part of the third entity?
- If one entity is part of but not identical to a second entity, must there be a third entity which makes up the difference?
- How does the ontology deal with wholes formed through the summation of parts?
- How does the ontology deal with continuity where a material object has parts between which there is no natural boundary?
- How does it deal with the factor of unity, which obtains where the parts of a whole are joined together in a way that distinguishes it from a sum?
EXAMPLES Unity is manifested by organisms or planets through the relation of direct or indirect physical connectedness; unity is manifested by solar systems and galaxies through relations of gravity that are above certain thresholds. Unity is manifested by a married couple through the relation of married to, and by a group of siblings through the relation sibling of.
NOTE A whole manifesting the factor of unity can be defined as being such that all its parts are related to each other, and only to each other, by a single distinguished relation.
126.96.36.199 Space and place
How does the ontology deal with places and locations?
- How does the ontology deal with holes, conduits, cavities, a vacuum?
- How does the ontology deal with shape?
188.8.131.52 Scale and granularity
How does the ontology deal with scale, granularity and levels of reality?
- Does the ontology treat the material world as being made up of entities at distinguished levels?
EXAMPLES Atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, planets and galaxies are examples of entities at distinguished levels of reality.
184.108.40.206 Qualities and other attributes
How does the ontology deal with qualities and other attributes?
NOTE ‘Attribute’ here is meant to include what are sometimes referred to as properties, features or characteristics.
- How do attributes relate to the entities that have or bear them?
- Does the ontology distinguish between attributes and values?
- Does the ontology recognize attributes of attributes?
EXAMPLES Quantitative and qualitative are examples of attributes of attributes.
220.127.116.11 Quantities and mathematical entities
How does the ontology deal with quantitative data and with mathematical data and theories?
- How does the ontology deal with units of measure?
- How are those attributes which are represented using qualitative terms such as ‘hot’ or ‘elevated temperature’ related to attributes represented using quantity expressions such as ‘63 ºC’?
18.104.22.168 Processes and events
How does the ontology deal with processes?
- Are processes identical to changes?
- What kinds of processes exist?
- Does the ontology allow attributes of processes?
- Does the ontology distinguish between processes and states?
- Does the ontology recognize instantaneous processes?
- How does the ontology deal with the relation – sometimes referred to as a relation of ‘constitution’ – between material entities and the material of which, at any given time, they are made?
- How does the ontology deal with the relation between, for example, minds and brains, persons and organisms, or between organizations and the totality of their members?
- Is there an analogue of the relation of constitution holding between processes, or between non-material entities of other sorts?
- How does the ontology deal with causality?
22.214.171.124 Information and reference
- How does the ontology deal with information entities?
EXAMPLES Databases, symbols, text documents, emails, video files, a speech.
- Does the ontology incorporate a relation between an information entity and what the information entity is about?
- If yes, how does the ontology deal with cases where there is no actual entity which a given information entity is about? Does the ontology deal with cases of this sort by recognizing possible worlds?
EXAMPLE Cases of aboutness where there is no corresponding actual entity may arise where plans for the future are being made.
126.96.36.199 Artefacts and socially constructed entities
- How does the ontology deal with artefacts?
EXAMPLE Engineered items.
- How does the ontology deal with entities commonly viewed as socially constructed, such as money?
- How does the ontology deal with entities such as laws, agreements, duties or permissions?
188.8.131.52 Mental entities; imagined entities; fiction; mythology; religion
- How does the ontology deal with mental entities?
EXAMPLES Minds, thoughts, decisions, memories, images
- How does the ontology deal with imagined entities?
- How does the ontology deal with entities or data in the realm of mythology?
- How does the ontology deal with entities or data in the realm of fiction?
- How does the ontology deal with entities or data in the realm of religion?
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