GFO Part I Basic Principles
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1.4 Related Work

Several groups are tackling the development of top-level ontologies or certain aspects of top-level ontologies. Here, we only mention a few important approaches. The following approaches are fairly developed, and they are used, in part, as a source for our considerations. Nicola Guarino, an early proponent of the use of ontologies in the field of knowledge-based systems, is involved in the construction of DOLCE (39,40). Further, two other ontologies are presented in (39), following the idea of an ontology library in the WonderWeb project. DOLCE itself is presented as a hierarchy of categories and several relationships between them. The description is fairly extensive and an axiomatization is contained therein as well.

John Sowa in (54) presents and extensively discusses a top-level ontology in the form of a polytree within a comprehensive book on knowledge representation issues, i.e., it is not a pure work introducing a top-level ontology. Sowa's ontology is based on ideas of the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce.

The Standard Upper Merged Ontology (SUMO) is an effort of the P1600.1 Standard Upper Ontology Working Group at IEEE (57). (43) provides the latest progress report. Thus far, there is no standard or draft standard for a Standard Upper Ontology (SUO) from this group. Instead, several draft proposals have been made, one of the more developed suggestions of which is SUMO. SUMO adopts a polytree architecture of categories, in which there are cases of multiple supercategories, for example, Group is a subcategory of both Collection and Agent. Its development may have contributed to the multiplicative approach, as SUMO originates from a merge of several top-level ontologies (cf. (42)), including one of Russell and Norvig (49), one of John Sowa (54), as well as several others.

Similarly, Roberto Poli contributes an additional important account of ontology in the field of computer science (44). In particular, Poli presents a theory of ontological levels (cf. (45,46)) that is acknowledged and adopted in GFO.

Apart from recent approaches to top-level ontologies, other fields offer contributions as well. In particular, issues related to those raised herein have been discussed in knowledge representation, knowledge-based systems research as well as database and object-oriented modeling. The focus in these areas may be a different one, but often some ontological questions are touched as well.

Robert Hoehndorf 2006-10-18


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