Design Diagrams as Ontological Sources: Ontology Extraction and Utilization for Software Asset Reuse

Design Diagrams as Ontological Sources: Ontology Extraction and Utilization for Software Asset Reuse

Kalapriya Kannan (IBM India Research Labs, India)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-028-8.ch012
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Ontology is a basic building block for the semantic web. An active line of research in semantic web is focused on how to build and evolve ontologies using the information from different ontological sources inherent in the domain. A large part of the IT industry uses software engineering methodologies to build software solutions that solve real-world problems. For them, instead of creating solutions from scratch, reusing previously built software as much as possible is a business-imperative today. As part of their projects, they use design diagrams to capture various facets of the software development process. We discuss how semantic web technologies can help solution-building organizations achieve software reuse by first learning ontologies from design diagrams of existing solutions and then using them to create design diagrams for new solutions. Our technique, called OntExtract, extracts domain ontology information (entities and their relationship(s)) from class diagrams and further refines the extracted information using diagrams that express dynamic interactions among entities such as sequence diagram. A proof of concept implementations is also developed as a Plug-in over a commercial development environment IBM’s Rational Software Architect.
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A Scientific American article describes evolution of Web that consisted largely of documents for humans to read and that included data and information for computers to manipulate. In order, to help the people and machines to communicate concisely, this huge repository of information (Web) have to be re-engineered to define shared and common domain theories that are machine processable. This is the precise aim of Semantic Web to build metadata – rich Web where presently human-readable content will have machine-understandable semantics. Semantic Web achieves the increased demand of shared semantic and a web of data and information derived from it through the adaptation of common conceptualizations referred to as Ontologies. Ontologies are fundamental building blocks of Semantic Web and therefore cheap and fast construction of domain-specific ontologies is crucial for the success and the proliferation of the Semantic Web. We explore how a semantic web may impact software engineering where common conceptualizations (e.g., software, work products, experience) from previous projects need to be reused in new projects.

The chapter will contribute in the following ways: (a) It will introduce an ontology learning technique from design diagrams (specifically UML) which is in line with the research direction of building ontologies from different sources to enable a rich semantic web; (b) It will show a concrete semantic web application how the semantic web technology of ontology can promote software reuse; (c) It will put recent research on transformations from UML to OWL and vice-versa in perspective; and (d) it will motivate more research effort in semi-automatically building integrated information models.

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