A Brief Introduction to Ontology

A Brief Introduction to Ontology

Roberto Paiano (University of Salento, Italy), Anna Lisa Guido (University of Salento, Italy) and Andrea Pandurino (University of Salento, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-300-5.ch004
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Abstract

It is now clear that a careful initial phase of design, above all that it concerns for the complex Web information systems, it is essential to assure the quality of the final system. To reduce the necessary time development effort in order to get the final output, it is important to have tools that allow quickly obtatining tangible results; in few words, it is important to quickly obtain a consistent part of code for the final application. In this way, it is possible to provide the customer with a first draft of the information system in order to have a first validation of the design.
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Definition Of Ontology

There are many definitions of the concept of “ontology” in the philosophical field, but surely that which is more suitable to this job is the definition given by Gruber in 1993: “ontology is a formal, explicit specification of a shared conceptualization.” The term “conceptualization” is the abstraction of some concept through the definition of its peculiar characteristics; the term “explicit” is connected to the fact that the constraints that contribute to the precise definition of the concept have to be expressed in a formal way, and finally the concept of “formality” points out that an ontology must be defined through a formal language.

The ontology, in conclusion, is a collection of terms and relative definitions or a map of concepts related to a well-precise domain in which it is possible to navigate.

When a group of people and software systems developed for the Web have to collaborate among them, it is necessary to guarantee that they understand the applications and the information that receive. Their interaction essentially depends on the adoption of a conceptualization, a formal representation of the reality as it is perceived independently the the used dictionary.

In order to understand the reality, an ontological characterization of the information is helpful: the information may be detected, isolated, organized and integrated based on what is most important: its content.

The ontology allows formulating an exhaustive and rigorous conceptual scheme within a well- specified domain. It generally concerns a hierarchical data structure that contains all of the amazing entities, the existing relationships between them, the rules, the axioms and the specific constraints of the domain.

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