Ontology Makes Sense: Essays in Honor of Nicola Guarino

Amsterdam: IOS Press (2019)
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Abstract

This book is written in homage to Nicola Guarino. It is a tribute to his many scientific contributions to the new discipline, applied ontology, he struggled to establish. Nicola Guarino is widely recognized as one of the pioneers in formal and applied ontology. Renow – and sometimes even criticized – for his deep interest for the subtlest details of theoretical analysis, all throughout his career he has held the conviction that all science has to be for the benefit of society at large, hence his motto that ontologies are not just for making information systems interoperable, but also – and more importantly – for making people (users of the systems) understand each other. He was among the first to realize that, to capture the intended meaning of the terms used by an information system, applied ontology has necessarily to be an interdisciplinary enterprise. Nicola’s early career developed in the areas of data systems and expert systems in physics and biomedical engineering. The lack of methodologies in expert systems led him to turn to philosophical logic as a source of inspiration, prompting him to attend the meetings of the analytic philosophy group at the University of Padua, and to discover a whole new world. It was the end of the 1980s and in that period the term ‘ontology’ started to be used to indicate a shared vocabulary across a community. Recognizing the potentials of this idea, Nicola began studying philosophical work. Knowing that language remains one of the pivotal elements in knowledge acquisition and representation, he paired it with the study of linguistic analysis. The combination of the two fields proved to be fundamental to shape his research vision, which could be summarized as: ontological analysis is hard, yet unavoidable to address the pervasive need for explicit, meaningful and transparent information systems. In other words, ontology makes sense.

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