Ontology Evolution: State of the Art and Future Directions

Ontology Evolution: State of the Art and Future Directions

Rim Djedidi (Supélec – Campus de Gif, France) and Marie-Aude Aufaure (MAS Laboratory, France)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-859-3.ch008


Ontologies evolve continuously throughout their lifecycle to respond to different change requirements. Several problems emanate from ontology evolution: capturing change requirements, change representation, change impact analysis and resolution, change validation, change traceability, change propagation to dependant artifacts, versioning, etc. The purpose of this chapter is to gather research and current developments to manage ontology evolution. The authors highlight ontology evolution issues and present a state-of-the-art of ontology evolution approach by describing issues raised and the ontology model considered (ontology representation language), and also the ontology engineering tools supporting ontology evolution and maintenance. Furthermore, they sum up the state-of-the-art review by a comparative study based on general characteristics, evolution functionalities supported, and specificities of the existing ontology evolution approaches. At the end of the chapter, the authors discuss future and emerging trends.
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Ontology Evolution Issues

In this section, we try to give a better understanding of the ontology evolution problem by analyzing the context of the problem, comparing it with problems and solutions in related areas and outlining its issues.

The increasing number of ontologies in use and their costly adaptation to change requirements make ontology evolution very important. Ontology evolution regards the capability of managing the modification of an ontology in a consistent way. It is defined as being “the timely adaptation of an ontology and consistent propagation of changes to dependent artifacts” (Maedche, Motik, & Stojanovic, 2003, pp.287).

Ontology Evolution Requirements

Ontology evolution requirements have been discussed in (Blundell & Pettifer, 2004; Noy & Klein, 2004; Stojanovic & Motik, 2002; Stojanovic, 2004; Klein, 2004). Ontology evolution is a complex problem (figure1): Besides identifying change requirements from several sources (modeled domain, usage environment, internal conceptualization, etc.), the management of a change –from a request to the final validation and application– needs to formally specify the required change, to analyze and resolve change effects on ontology, to implement the change, and to validate its final application. In a collaborative or distributed context, it is also necessary to propagate local changes to dependent artifacts and to globally validate changes. Moreover, to justify, explain or cancel a change, and manage ontology versions, change traceability has to be kept.

Figure 1.

Ontology evolution requirements

Before going into depth with ontology change management issues, we compare existing strategies to handle changes in database schemas and knowledge bases with the field of ontology evolution.

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