GFO Part I Basic Principles
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1.3 Applications

There is a wide range of intended applications for GFO/ISFO. One such application is to incorporate the ontological results into conceptual modeling. Current languages in use for conceptual modeling like the Unified Modeling Language (UML) (9,48), entity relationship modeling in the database field, or the Object-Process Methodology (20) can be examined according to their ontological commitments. Moreover, extensions of these languages in terms of GFO categories could be useful.2

The next application leads from conceptual modelling to its utilization in software design. Against the background of the Research Group Ontologies in Medicine, several software tools for the clinical domain are already in development.3 In later stages of software development, ISFO/GFO exerts two levels of influence. On the one hand, modeling methodologies and languages can be used in the design of software applications, directing developers to their ontological assumptions and allowing them to make these more explicit. This should lead to a higher degree of correct reuse. On the other hand, the data processed by applications can be linked to or analysed in terms of the GFO.

The software application Onto-Builder4 plays a central role in the latter part, particularly because one of its major purposes is to support the harmonisation of several definitional alternatives among experts within some limited domain (e.g. in the domain of clinical trials, many variants of definitions exist and have to be carefully collected and organized in order to allow for high-quality treatment within clinical trials and adequate reuse of results). A later version of the Onto-Builder may support the analysis of such definitions in terms of GFO.

A different method for using GFO involves the Semantic Web initiative5. One approach is to partially express GFO in a Semantic Web language, like the Web Ontology Language (OWL) (61), such that it can be used as a basis for domain-specific ontologies written in OWL. This allows for the reuse of reasoners and the collaboration with other groups adhering to the recommendations of the W3C.

Additional areas of applications for GFO include bioinformatics and biomedical domain ontologies6, ontological modelling, medical information systems, and domain specific semantic wikis.

Robert Hoehndorf 2006-10-18


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