The value of any kind of data is greatly enhanced when it exists in a form that allows it to be integrated with other data. One approach to integration is through the annotation of multiple bodies of data using common controlled vocabularies or ‘ontologies’. Unfortunately, the very success of this approach has led to a proliferation of ontologies which itself creates obstacles to integration. The Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) consortium has set in train a strategy to overcome this problem. Existing (...) OBO ontologies, including the Gene Ontology, are undergoing a process of coordinated reform and new ontologies being created on the basis of an evolving set of shared principles governing ontology development. The result is an expanding family of ontologies designed to be interoperable, logically well-formed, and to incorporate accurate representations of biological reality. We describe the OBO Foundry initiative, and provide guidelines for those who might wish to become involved. (shrink)
To enhance the treatment of relations in biomedical ontologies we advance a methodology for providing consistent and unambiguous formal definitions of the relational expressions used in such ontologies in a way designed to assist developers and users in avoiding errors in coding and annotation. The resulting Relation Ontology can promote interoperability of ontologies and support new types of automated reasoning about the spatial and temporal dimensions of biological and medical phenomena.
Since 2002 we have been testing and reﬁning a methodology for ontology development that is now being used by multiple groups of researchers in different life science domains. Gary Merrill, in a recent paper in this journal, describes some of the reasons why this methodology has been found attractive by researchers in the biological and biomedical sciences. At the same time he assails the methodology on philosophical grounds, focusing speciﬁcally on our recommendation that ontologies developed for scientiﬁc purposes should be (...) constructed in such a way that their terms are seen as referring to what we call universals or types in reality. As we show, Merrill’s critique is of little relevance to the success of our realist project, since it not only reveals no actual errors in our work but also criticizes views on universals that we do not in fact hold. However, it nonetheless provides us with a valuable opportunity to clarify the realist methodology, and to show how some of its principles are being applied, especially within the framework of the OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry initiative. (shrink)
The notion of function is indispensable to our understanding of distinctions such as that between being broken and being in working order (for artifacts) and between being diseased and being healthy (for organisms). A clear account of the ontology of functions and functioning is thus an important desideratum for any top-level ontology intended for application to domains such as engineering or medicine. The benefit of using top-level ontologies in applied ontology can only be realized when each of the categories identified (...) and defined by a top-level ontology is integrated with the others in a coherent fashion. Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) has from the beginning included function as one of its categories, exploiting a version of the etiological account of function that is framed at a level of generality sufficient to accommodate both biological and artifactual functions. This account has been subjected to a series of criticisms and refinements. We here articulate BFO’s account of function, provide some reasons for favoring it over competing views, and defend it against objections. (shrink)
The Information Artifact Ontology (IAO) was created to serve as a domain‐neutral resource for the representation of types of information content entities (ICEs) such as documents, data‐bases, and digital im‐ages. We identify a series of problems with the current version of the IAO and suggest solutions designed to advance our understanding of the relations between ICEs and associated cognitive representations in the minds of human subjects. This requires embedding IAO in a larger framework of ontologies, including most importantly the Mental (...) Func‐tioning Ontology (MFO). It also requires a careful treatment of the aboutness relations between ICEs and associated cognitive representa‐tions and their targets in reality, which implies in turn a new treatment of the relation of truthmaking. (shrink)
Many existing biomedical vocabulary standards rest on incomplete, inconsistent or confused accounts of basic terms pertaining to diseases, diagnoses, and clinical phenotypes. Here we outline what we believe to be a logically and biologically coherent framework for the representation of such entities and of the relations between them. We defend a view of disease as involving in every case some physical basis within the organism that bears a disposition toward the execution of pathological processes. We present our view in the (...) form of a list of terms and definitions designed to provide a consistent starting point for the representation of both disease and diagnosis in information systems in the future. (shrink)
Ontology is a burgeoning field, involving researchers from the computer science, philosophy, data and software engineering, logic, linguistics, and terminology domains. Many ontology-related terms with precise meanings in one of these domains have different meanings in others. Our purpose here is to initiate a path towards disambiguation of such terms. We draw primarily on the literature of biomedical informatics, not least because the problems caused by unclear or ambiguous use of terms have been there most thoroughly addressed. We advance a (...) proposal resting on a distinction of three levels too often run together in biomedical ontology research: 1. the level of reality; 2. the level of cognitive representations of this reality; 3. the level of textual and graphical artifacts. We propose a reference terminology for ontology research and development that is designed to serve as common hub into which the several competing disciplinary terminologies can be mapped. We then justify our terminological choices through a critical treatment of the ‘concept orientation’ in biomedical terminology research. (shrink)
A diagnostic process is an investigative process that takes a clinical picture as input and outputs a diagnosis. We propose a method for distinguishing diagnoses that are warranted from those that are not, based on the cognitive processes of which they are the outputs. Processes designed and vetted to reliably produce correct diagnoses will output what we shall call ‘warranted diagnoses’. The latter are diagnoses that should be trusted even if they later turn out to have been wrong. Our work (...) is based on the recently developed Cognitive Process Ontology and further develops the Ontology of General Medical Science. It also has applications in fields such as intelligence, forensics, and predictive maintenance, all of which rely on vetted processes designed to secure the reliability of their outputs. (shrink)
The goal of referent tracking is to create an ever-growing pool of data relating to the entities existing in concrete spatiotemporal reality. In the context of Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs) the relevant concrete entities are not only particular patients but also their parts, diseases, therapies, lesions, and so forth, insofar as these are salient to diagnosis and treatment. Within a referent tracking system, all such entities are referred to directly and explicitly, something which cannot be achieved when familiar concept-based systems (...) are used in what is called “clinical coding”. In this paper we describe the components of a referent tracking system in an informal way and we outline the procedures that would have to be followed by healthcare personnel in using such a system. We argue that the referent tracking paradigm can be introduced with only minor – though nevertheless ontologically important – technical changes to existing EHR infrastructures, but that it will require a radically different mindset on the part of those involved in clinical coding and terminology development from that which has prevailed hitherto. (shrink)
While classifications of mental disorders have existed for over one hundred years, it still remains unspecified what terms such as 'mental disorder', 'disease' and 'illness' might actually denote. While ontologies have been called in aid to address this shortfall since the GALEN project of the early 1990s, most attempts thus far have sought to provide a formal description of the structure of some pre-existing terminology or classification, rather than of the corresponding structures and processes on the side of the patient. (...) We here present a view of mental disease that is based on ontological realism and which follows the principles embodied in Basic Formal Ontology and in the application of BFO in the Ontology of General Medical Science. We analyzed statements about what counts as a mental disease provided in the research agenda for the DSM-V, and in Pies' model. The results were used to assess whether the representational units of BFO and OGMS were adequate as foundations for a formal representation of the entities in reality that these statements attempt to describe. We then analyzed the representational units specific to mental disease and provided corresponding definitions. Our key contributions lie in the identification of confusions and conflations in the existing terminology of mental disease and in providing what we believe is a framework for the sort of clear and unambiguous reference to entities on the side of the patient that is needed in order to avoid these confusions in the future. (shrink)
Quality assurance in large terminologies is a difficult issue. We present two algorithms that can help terminology developers and users to identify potential mistakes. We demonstrate the methodology by outlining the different types of mistakes that are found when the algorithms are applied to SNOMED-CT. On the basis of the results, we argue that both formal logical and linguistic tools should be used in the development and quality-assurance process of large terminologies.
Mental and behavioral disorders represent a signiﬁcant portion of the public health burden in all countries. The human cost of these disorders is immense, yet treatment options for sufferers are currently limited, with many patients failing to respond sufﬁciently to available interventions and drugs. High quality ontologies facilitate data aggregation and comparison across different disciplines, and may therefore speed up the translation of primary research into novel therapeutics. Realism-based ontologies describe entities in reality and the relationships between them in such (...) a way that – once formulated in a suitable formal language – the ontologies can be used for sophisticated automated reasoning applications. Reference ontologies can be applied across different contexts in which different, and often mutually incompatible, domain-speciﬁc vocabularies have traditionally been used. In this contribution we describe the Mental Functioning Ontology (MF) and Mental Disease Ontology (MD), two realism-based ontologies currently under development for the description of humanmental functioning and disease. We describe the structure and upper levels of the ontologies and preliminary application scenarios, and identify some open questions. (shrink)
The Health Level 7 Reference Information Model (HL7 RIM) is lauded by its authors as ‘the foundation of healthcare interoperability’. Yet even after some 10 years of development work, the RIM is still subject to a variety of logical and ontological flaws which have placed severe obstacles in the way of those who are called upon to develop implementations. We offer evidence that these obstacles are insurmountable and that the time has come to abandon an unworkable paradigm.
We performed a qualitative analysis of the Thesaurus in order to assess its conformity with principles of good practice in terminology and ontology design. We used both the on-line browsable version of the Thesaurus and its OWL-representation (version 04.08b, released on August 2, 2004), measuring each in light of the requirements put forward in relevant ISO terminology standards and in light of ontological principles advanced in the recent literature. Version 04.08b of the NCI Thesaurus suffers from the same broad range (...) of problems that have been observed in other biomedical terminologies. For its further development, we recommend the use of a more principled approach that allows the Thesaurus to be tested not just for internal consistency but also for its degree of correspondence to that part of reality which it is designed to represent. (shrink)
Affective science conducts interdisciplinary research into the emotions and other affective phenomena. Currently, such research is hampered by the lack of common definitions of te rms used to describe, categorise and report both individual emotional experiences and the results of scientific investigations of such experiences. High quality ontologies provide formal definitions for types of entities in reality and for the relationships between such entities, definitions which can be used to disambiguate and unify data across different disciplines. Heretofore, there has been (...) little effort directed towards such formal representation for affective phenomena, in part because of widespread debates within the affective science community on matters of definition and categorization. We describe our efforts towards developing an Emotion Ontology (EMO) to serve the affective science community. We here focus on conformity to the BFO upper ontology and disambiguation of polysemous terminology. (shrink)
PURPOSE—A substantial fraction of the observations made by clinicians and entered into patient records are expressed by means of negation or by using terms which contain negative qualifiers (as in “absence of pulse” or “surgical procedure not performed”). This seems at first sight to present problems for ontologies, terminologies and data repositories that adhere to a realist view and thus reject any reference to putative non-existing entities. Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) and Referent Tracking (RT) are examples of such paradigms. The (...) purpose of the research here described was to test a proposal to capture negative findings in electronic health record systems based on BFO and RT. METHODS—We analysed a series of negative findings encountered in 748 sentences taken from 41 patient charts. We classified the phenomena described in terms of the various top-level categories and relations defined in BFO, taking into account the role of negation in the corresponding descriptions. We also studied terms from SNOMED-CT containing one or other form of negation. We then explored ways to represent the described phenomena by means of the types of representational units available to realist ontologies such as BFO. RESULTS—We introduced a new family of ‘lacks’ relations into the OBO Relation Ontology. The relation lacks_part, for example, defined in terms of the positive relation part_of, holds between a particular p and a universal U when p has no instance of U as part. Since p and U both exist, assertions involving ‘lacks_part’ and its cognates meet the requirements of positivity. CONCLUSION—By expanding the OBO Relation Ontology, we were able to accommodate nearly all occurrences of negative findings in the sample studied. (shrink)
The last two decades have seen considerable efforts directed towards making Electronic Health Records interoperable through improvements in medical ontologies, terminologies and coding systems. Unfortunately, these efforts have been hampered by a number of influential ideas inherited from the work of Eugen Wüster, the father of terminology standardization and the founder of ISO TC 37. We here survey Wüster’s ideas – which see terminology work as being focused on the classification of concepts in people’s minds – and we argue that (...) they serve still as the basis for a series of influential confusions. We argue further that an ontology based unambiguously, not on concepts, but on the classification of entities in reality can, by removing these confusions, make a vital contribution to ensuring the interoperability of coding systems and healthcare records in the future. (shrink)
Ontology is currently perceived as the solution of first resort for all problems related to biomedical terminology, and the use of description logics is seen as a minimal requirement on adequate ontology-based systems. Contrary to common conceptions, however, description logics alone are not able to prevent incorrect representations; this is because they do not come with a theory indicating what is computed by using them, just as classical arithmetic does not tell us anything about the entities that are added or (...) subtracted. In this paper we shall show that ontology is indeed an essential part of any solution to the problems of medical terminology – but only if it is understood in the right sort of way. Ontological engineering, we shall argue, should in every case go hand in hand with a sound ontological theory. (shrink)
Based on the Ontology for General Medical Science, we propose definitions for biomarkers of various types of. These definitions provide not only a complete formal representation of what biomarkers are according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), but also remove the ambiguities and inconsistencies encountered in the documentation provided by the IOM.
We present an ontology of pain and of other pain-related phenomena, building on the definition of pain provided by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). Our strategy is to identify an evolutionarily basic canonical pain phenomenon, involving unpleasant sensory and emotional experience based causally in localized tissue damage that is concordant with that experience. We then show how different variant cases of this canonical pain phenomenon can be distinguished, including pain that is elevated relative to peripheral trauma, (...) pain that is caused neuropathically (thus with no necessary peripheral stimulus), and pain reports arising through deception either of self or of others. We describe how our approach can answer some of the objections raised against the IASP definition, and sketch how it can be used to support more sophisticated discrimination of different types of pain resulting in improved data analysis that can help in advancing pain research. (shrink)
We present the details of a methodology for quality assurance in large medical terminologies and describe three algorithms that can help terminology developers and users to identify potential mistakes. The methodology is based in part on linguistic criteria and in part on logical and ontological principles governing sound classifications. We conclude by outlining the results of applying the methodology in the form of a taxonomy different types of errors and potential errors detected in SNOMED-CT.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are organized around two kinds of statements: those reporting observations made, and those reporting acts performed. In neither case does the record involve any direct reference to what such statements are actually about. They record not: what is happening on the side of the patient, but rather: what is said about what is happening. While the need for a unique patient identifier is generally recognized, we argue that we should now move to an EHR regime in (...) which all clinically salient particulars – from the concrete disorder on the side of the patient and the body parts in which it occurs to the concrete treatments given – should be uniquely identified. This will allow us to achieve interoperability among different systems of records at the level where it really matters: in regard to what is happening in the real world. It will also allow us to keep track of particular disorders and of the effects of particular treatments in a precise and unambiguous way. We discuss the ontological and epistemological aspects of our claim and describe a scenario for implementation within EHR systems. (shrink)
The paradigm of referent tracking is based on a realist presupposition which rejects so-called negative entities (congenital absent nipple, and the like) as spurious. How, then, can a referent tracking-based Electronic Health Record deal with what are standardly called ‘negative findings’? To answer this question we carried out an analysis of some 748 sentences drawn from patient charts and containing some form of negation. Our analysis shows that to deal with these sentences we need to introduce a new ontological relationship (...) between a particular and a universal, which holds when no instance of the universal has a specific qualified ontological relation with the particular. This relation is found to be able to accommodate nearly all occurrences of negative findings in the examined sample, in ways which involve no reference to negative entities. (shrink)
If SNOMED CT is to serve as a biomedical reference terminology, then steps must be taken to ensure comparability of information formulated using successive versions. New releases are therefore shipped with a history mechanism. We assessed the adequacy of this mechanism for its treatment of the distinction between changes occurring on the side of entities in reality and changes in our understanding thereof. We found that these two types are only partially distinguished and that a more detailed study is required (...) to propose clear recommendations for enhancement along at least the following lines: (1) explicit representation of the provenance of a class; (2) separation of the time-period during which a component is stated valid in SNOMED CT from the period it is (or has been) valid in reality, and (3) redesign of the historical relationships table to give users better assistance for recovery in case of introduced mistakes. (shrink)
Digital Rights Management (DRM) covers the description, identification, trading, protection, monitoring and tracking of all forms of rights over both tangible and intangible assets. The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system provides a framework for the persistent identification of entities involved in this domain. Although the system has been very well designed to manage object identifiers, some important questions relating to the creation and assignment of identifiers are left open. The paradigm of a Referent Tracking System (RTS) recently advanced in the (...) healthcare and life sciences environment is able to fill these gaps. This is demonstrated by pointing out inconsistencies in the existing DOI models and by showing how they can be corrected using an RTS. (shrink)
The goal of the OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry initiative is to create and maintain an evolving collection of non-overlapping interoperable ontologies that will offer unambiguous representations of the types of entities in biological and biomedical reality. These ontologies are designed to serve non-redundant annotation of data and scientific text. To achieve these ends, the Foundry imposes strict requirements upon the ontologies eligible for inclusion. While these requirements are not met by most existing biomedical terminologies, the latter may nonetheless support (...) the Foundry’s goal of consistent and non-redundant annotation if appropriate mappings of data annotated with their aid can be achieved. To construct such mappings in reliable fashion, however, it is necessary to analyze terminological resources from an ontologically realistic perspective in such a way as to identify the exact import of the ‘concepts’ and associated terms which they contain. We propose a framework for such analysis that is designed to maximize the degree to which legacy terminologies and the data coded with their aid can be successfully used for information-driven clinical and translational research. (shrink)
The automatic integration of rapidly expanding information resources in the life sciences is one of the most challenging goals facing biomedical research today. Controlled vocabularies, terminologies, and coding systems play an important role in realizing this goal, by making it possible to draw together information from heterogeneous sources – for example pertaining to genes and proteins, drugs and diseases – secure in the knowledge that the same terms will also represent the same entities on all occasions of use. In the (...) naming of genes, proteins, and other molecular structures, considerable efforts are under way to reduce the effects of the different naming conventions which have been spawned by different groups of researchers. Electronic patient records, too, increasingly involve the use of standardized terminologies, and tremendous efforts are currently being devoted to the creation of terminology resources that can meet the needs of a future era of personalized medicine, in which genomic and clinical data can be aligned in such a way that the corresponding information systems become interoperable. (shrink)
Ontologies are being developed throughout the biomedical sciences to address standardization, integration, classiﬁcation and reasoning needs against the background of an increasingly data-driven research paradigm. In particular, ontologies facilitate the translation of basic research into beneﬁts for the patient by making research results more discoverable and by facilitating knowledge transfer across disciplinary boundaries. Addressing and adequately treating mental illness is one of our most pressing public health challenges. Primary research across multiple disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, biology, neuroscience and pharmacology (...) needs to be integrated in order to promote a more comprehensive understanding of underlying processes and mechanisms, and this need for integration only becomes more pressing with our increase in understanding of differences among individuals and populations at the molecular level concerning susceptibility to speciﬁc illnesses. Substance addiction is a particularly relevant public health challenge in the developed world, affecting a substantial percentage of the population, often co-morbid with other illnesses such as mood disorders. Currently, however, there is no straightforward automated method to combine data of relevance to the study of substance addiction across multiple disciplines and populations. In this contribution, we describe a framework of interlinked, interoperable bio-ontologies for the annotation of primary research data relating to substance addiction, and discuss how this framework enables easy integration of results across disciplinary boundaries. We describe entities and relationships relevant for the description of addiction within the Mental Functioning Ontology, Chemical Entities of Biological Interest Ontology, Protein Ontology, Gene Ontology and the Neuroscience Information Framework ontologies. (shrink)
Referent tracking (RT) is a new paradigm, based on unique identification, for representing and keeping track of particulars. It was first introduced to support the entry and retrieval of data in electronic health records (EHRs). Its purpose is to avoid the ambiguity that arises when statements in an EHR refer to disorders or other entities on the side of the patient exclusively by means of compound descriptions utilizing general terms such as ‘pimple on nose’ or ‘small left breast tumor’. In (...) this paper, we describe the theoretical foundations of this paradigm and show how it is being applied to the solution of analogous problems of ambiguous identification in the fields of digital rights management, corporate memories and decision algorithms. (shrink)
Initially the problems of data integration, for example in the field of medicine, were resolved in case by case fashion. Pairs of databases were cross-calibrated by hand, rather as if one were translating from French into Hebrew. As the numbers and complexity of database systems increased, the idea arose of streamlining these efforts by constructing one single benchmark taxonomy, as it were a central switchboard, into which all of the various classification systems would need to be translated only once. By (...) serving as a lingua franca for database integration this benchmark taxonomy would ensure that all databases calibrated in its terms would be automatically compatible with each other. We describe one strategy for creating such a lingua franca, in which philosophical ontology plays a central role. (shrink)
Definitive diagnosis of malaria requires the demonstration through laboratory tests of the presence within the patient of malaria parasites or their components. Since malaria parasites can be present even in the absence of malaria manifestations, and since symptoms of malaria can be manifested even in the absence of malaria parasites, malaria diagnosis raises important issues for the adequate understanding of disease, etiology and diagnosis. One approach to the resolution of these issues adopts a realist view, according to which the needed (...) clarifications will be derived from a careful representation of the entities on the side of the patient which form the ultimate truthmakers for clinical statements. We here address a challenge to this realist approach relating to the diagnosis of malaria, and show how this challenge can be resolved by appeal to Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) and to the Ontology for General Medical Science (OGMS) constructed in its terms. (shrink)
Software application ontologies have the potential to become the keystone in state-of-the-art information management techniques. It is expected that these ontologies will support the sort of reasoning power required to navigate large and complex terminologies correctly and efficiently. Yet, there is one problem in particular that continues to stand in our way. As these terminological structures increase in size and complexity, and the drive to integrate them inevitably swells, it is clear that the level of consistency required for such navigation (...) will become correspondingly difficult to maintain. While descriptive semantic representations are certainly a necessary component to any adequate ontology-based system, so long as ontology engineers rely solely on semantic information, without a sound ontological theory informing their modeling decisions, this goal will surely remain out of reach. In this paper we describe how Language and Computing nv (L&C), along with The Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Sciences (IFOMIS), are working towards developing and implementing just such a theory, combining the open software architecture of L&C’s LinkSuiteTM with the philosophical rigor of IFOMIS’s Basic Formal Ontology. In this way we aim to move beyond the more or less simple controlled vocabularies that have dominated the industry to date. (shrink)
Die biomedizinische Forschung hat ein Kommunikationsproblem. Um die Ergebnisse ihrer Arbeit darzustellen, greifen einzelne Forschergruppen auf unterschiedliche und oft inkompatible Terminologien zurück. Für den Fortschritt der modernen Biomedizin ist die Integration dieser Ergebnisse jedoch unabdingbar.
Referent Tracking (RT) advocates the use of instance unique identifiers to refer to the entities comprising the subject matter of patient health records. RT promises many benefits to those who use health record data to improve patient care. To further the adoption of the paradigm we provide an illustration of how data from an EHR application needs to be decomposed in order to make it accord with the tenets of RT. We describe the ontological principles on which this decomposition is (...) based in order to allow integration efforts to be applied in similar ways to other EHR applications. We find that an ordinary statement from an EHR contains a surprising amount of “hidden” data that are only revealed by its decomposition according to these principles. (shrink)
Changes in an upper level ontology have obvious conse-quences for the domain ontologies that use it at lower levels. It is therefore crucial to document the changes made between successive versions of ontologies of this kind. We describe and apply a method for tracking, explaining and measuring changes between successive versions of upper level ontologies such as the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). The proposed change-tracking method extends earlier work on Realism-Based Ontology Versioning (RBOV) and Evolutionary Terminology Auditing (ETA). We describe (...) here the application of this evaluation method to changes between BFO 1.0, BFO 1.1, and BFO 2.0. We discuss the issues raised by this application and describe the extensions which we added to the original evaluation schema in order to account for changes in an ontology of this type. Our results show that BFO has undergone eight types of changes that can be systematically explained by the extended evaluation schema. Finally, we discuss problematic cases, possible pitfalls and certain limits of our study that we propose to address in future work. (shrink)
The Joint Battle Management Language (JBML) is an XML-based language designed to allow Command and Control (C2) systems to interface easily with Modeling and Simulation (M&S) systems. While some of the XML-tags defined in this language correspond to types of entities that exist in reality, others are mere syntactic artifacts used to structure the messages themselves. Because these two kinds of tags are not formally distinguishable, JBML messages in effect confuse data with what the data represent. In this paper we (...) show how a realism-based ontology combined with a rule language can be used to make these distinctions explicit. The approach allows storage of the contents of JBML messages in a Referent Tracking System in a format that mimics the structure of reality thereby providing an aid to message validation. (shrink)
For corporate memory and enterprise ontology systems to be maximally useful, they must be freed from certain barriers placed around them by traditional knowledge management paradigms. This means, above all, that they must mirror more faithfully those portions of reality which are salient to the workings of the enterprise, including the changes that occur with the passage of time. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate how theories based on philosophical realism can contribute to this objective. We discuss how (...) realism-based ontologies (capturing what is generic) combined with referent tracking (capturing what is specific) can play a key role in building the robust and useful corporate memories of the future. (shrink)
Tumors, abscesses, cysts, scars, fractures are familiar types of what we shall call pathological continuant entities. The instances of such types exist always in or on anatomical structures, which thereby become transformed into pathological anatomical structures of corresponding types: a fractured tibia, a blistered thumb, a carcinomatous colon. In previous work on biomedical ontologies we showed how the provision of formal definitions for relations such as is_a, part_of and transformation_of can facilitate the integration of such ontologies in ways which have (...) the potential to support new kinds of automated reasoning. We here extend this approach to the treatment of pathologies, focusing especially on those pathological continuant entities which arise when organs become affected by carcinomas. (shrink)
Successful biomedical data mining and information extraction require a complete picture of biological phenomena such as genes, biological processes, and diseases; as these exist on different levels of granularity. To realize this goal, several freely available heterogeneous databases as well as proprietary structured datasets have to be integrated into a single global customizable scheme. We will present a tool to integrate different biological data sources by mapping them to a proprietary biomedical ontology that has been developed for the purposes of (...) making computers understand medical natural language. (shrink)
Affective science conducts interdisciplinary research into the emotions and other affective phenomena. Currently, such research is hampered by the lack of common definitions of terms used to describe, categorise and report both individual emotional experiences and the results of scientific investigations of such experiences. High quality ontologies provide formal definitions for types of entities in reality and for the relationships between such entities, definitions which can be used to disambiguate and unify data across different disciplines. Heretofore, there has been little (...) effort directed towards such formal representation for affective phenomena, in part because of widespread debates within the affective science community on matters of definition and categorization. To address this requirement, we are developing an Emotion Ontology (EMO). (shrink)
Ontological realism aims at the development of high quality ontologies that faithfully represent what is general in reality and to use these ontologies to render heterogeneous data collections comparable. To achieve this second goal for clinical research datasets presupposes not merely (1) that the requisite ontologies already exist, but also (2) that the datasets in question are faithful to reality in the dual sense that (a) they denote only particulars and relationships between particulars that do in fact exist and (b) (...) they do this in terms of the types and type-level relationships described in these ontologies. While much attention has been devoted to (1), work on (2), which is the topic of this paper, is comparatively rare. Using Referent Tracking as basis, we describe a technical data wrangling strategy which consists in creating for each dataset a template that, when applied to each particular record in the dataset, leads to the generation of a collection of Referent Tracking Tuples (RTT) built out of unique identifiers for the entities described by means of the data items in the record. The proposed strategy is based on (i) the distinction between data and what data are about, and (ii) the explicit descriptions of portions of reality which RTTs provide and which range not only over the particulars described by data items in a dataset, but also over these data items themselves. This last feature allows us to describe particulars that are only implicitly referred to by the dataset; to provide information about correspondences between data items in a dataset; and to assert which data items are unjustifiably or redundantly present in or absent from the dataset. The approach has been tested on a dataset collected from patients seeking treatment for orofacial pain at two German universities and made available for the NIDCR-funded OPMQoL project. (shrink)
The IPAP Schizophrenia Algorithm was originally designed in the form of a flow chart to help physicians optimise the treatment of schizophrenic patients. We examined the current version from the perspective of recent work on terminologies and ontologies thereby drawing on the resources of Basic Formal Ontology, and this with the objective to make the algorithm appropriate for Semantic Web applications. We found that Basic Formal Ontology is a rich enough theory to represent all the entities involved and that applying (...) the theory to the IPAP schizophrenia algorithm results in a representation that can be used by software agents to perform monitoring and control in a referent tracking environment. (shrink)
The Emotion Ontology is an ontology covering all aspects of emotional and affective mental functioning. It is being developed following the principles of the OBO Foundry and Ontological Realism. This means that in compiling the ontology, we emphasize the importance of the nature of the entities in reality that the ontology is describing. One of the ways in which realism-based ontologies are being successfully used within biomedical science is in the annotation of scientiﬁc research results in publicly available databases. Such (...) annotation enables several objectives, including searching, browsing and cross-database data integration. A key beneﬁt conferred by realismbased ontology is that suitably annotated research results are able to be aggregated and compared in a fashion that is based on the underlying reality that the science is studying. This has the potential of increasing the power of statistical analysis and meta-analysis in data-driven science. This aspect has been fruitfully exploited in the investigation of the functions of genes in molecular biology. Cognitive neuroscience uses functional neuroimaging to investigate the brain correlates of areas of mental functioning such as memory, planning and emotion. The use of functional neuroimaging to study affective phenomena such as the emotions is called ‘affective neuroscience’. BrainMap is the largest curated database of coordinates and metadata for studies in cognitive neuroscience, including affective neuroscience (Laird et al., 2005). BrainMap data is already classiﬁed and indexed using a terminology for classiﬁcation, called the ‘Cognitive Paradigm Ontology’ (CogPO), that has been developed to facilitate searching and browsing. However, CogPO has been developed speciﬁcally for the BrainMap database, and the data are thus far not annotated to a realism-based ontology which would allow the discovery of interrelationships between research results across different databases on the basis of what the research is about. In this contribution, we describe ongoing work that aims to annotate affective neuroscience data, starting with the BrainMap database, using the Emotion Ontology. We describe our objectives and technical approach to the annotation, and mention some of the challenges. (shrink)
One way to detect, monitor and prevent adverse events with the help of Information Technology is by using ontologies capable of representing three levels of reality: what is the case, what is believed about reality, and what is represented. We report on how Basic Formal Ontology and Referent Tracking exhibit this capability and how they are used to develop an adverse event ontology and related data annotation scheme for the European ReMINE project.
The integration of information resources in the life sciences is one of the most challenging problems facing bioinformatics today. We describe how Language and Computing nv, originally a developer of ontology-based natural language understanding systems for the healthcare domain, is developing a framework for the integration of structured data with unstructured information contained in natural language texts. L&C’s LinkSuite™ combines the flexibility of a modular software architecture with an ontology based on rigorous philosophical and logical principles that is designed to (...) comprehend the basic formal relationships that structure both reality and the ways humans perceive and communicate about reality. (shrink)
Recent years have seen rapid progress in the development of ontologies as semantic models intended to capture and represent aspects of the real world. There is, however, great variation in the quality of ontologies. If ontologies are to become progressively better in the future, more rigorously developed, and more appropriately compared, then a systematic discipline of ontology evaluation must be created to ensure quality of content and methodology. Systematic methods for ontology evaluation will take into account representation of individual ontologies, (...) performance (in terms of accuracy, domain coverage and the efficiency and quality of automated reasoning using the ontologies) on tasks for which the ontology is designed and used, degree of alignment with other ontologies and their compatibility with automated reasoning. A sound and systematic approach to ontology evaluation is required to transform ontology engineering into a true scientific and engineering discipline. This chapter discusses issues and problems in ontology evaluation, describes some current strategies, and suggests some approaches that might be useful in the future. (shrink)
Aims: The Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandi¬bular Disorders (RDC/TMD) Axis I diagnostic algorithms were demonstrated to be reliable but below target sensitivity and specificity. Empirical data supported Axis I algorithm revisions that were valid. Axis II instruments were shown to be both reliable and valid. An international consensus workshop was convened to obtain recommendations and finalization of new Axis I diagnostic algorithms and new Axis II instruments. Methods: A comprehensive search of published TMD diagnostic literature was followed by review and (...) consensus via a formal structured process by a panel of experts for revision of the RDC/TMD. Results: The recommended Diagnostic Criteria for TMD (DC/TMD) Axis I protocol includes both a valid screener for pain diagnoses and valid criteria for the most common pain-related TMDs and for one intra-articular disorder. The Axis II protocol retains selected RDC/TMD screening instruments augmented with new instruments to better assess the interactions between pain and psychosocial functioning. A comprehensive classification system is also presented. Conclusion: The recommended evidence-based DC/TMD protocol is appropriate for use in both the clinical and research settings. Simple Axis I and II screening tests augmented by validated Axis I and Axis II instruments allow for identification of simple to complex TMD patients. (shrink)
Health Level 7 (HL7) is an organization seeking to provide universal standards for the exchange of healthcare information. In a document entitled ‘HL7 Version 3 Standard: Data Types’, the HL7 organization advances descriptions of data types recom- mended for use as identifiers. We will argue that the descriptions supplied provide insufficient guidance as to what exactly the entities are which these data types uniquely identify. Are they real things, such as persons or pieces of equipment? Or are they representations of (...) such real things in information artifacts? We here outline the problems faced by HL7 in providing answers to such questions, problems which arise because of the lack of anything like a coherent ontology in the HL7 standard, and we make some recommendations for future improvements. (shrink)
Ontologies are today being applied in almost every field to support the alignment and retrieval of data of distributed provenance. Here we focus on new ontological work on dance and on related cultural phenomena belonging to what UNESCO calls the “intangible heritage.” Currently data and information about dance, including video data, are stored in an uncontrolled variety of ad hoc ways. This serves not only to prevent retrieval, comparison and analysis of the data, but may also impinge on our ability (...) to preserve the data that already exists. Here we explore recent technological developments that are designed to counteract such problems by allowing information to be retrieved across disciplinary, cultural, linguistic and technological boundaries. Software applications such as the ones envisaged here will enable speedier recovery of data and facilitate its analysis in ways that will assist both archiving of and research on dance. (shrink)