BFO-Based Data and Information Ontologies

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The Information Artifact Ontology (IAO)

The Information Artifact Ontology (IAO) grew out of the Data Processing Branch of the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) in recognition of the need for domain‐neutral resource for the representation of types of information content entities (ICEs), that would apply to documents and data of all kinds, and not merely to information entities in the domain of biomedicine. IAO is based on the copying and aboutnessrelations: an information content entity is, roughly, an entity that can be copied (in the way, for example, that a gene sequence or a computer file can be copied) and that is about something. The aboutness relation itself has its roots in the mental realm -- an information content entity e is about something, again roughly speaking, in virtue of the fact that the mental acts which gave rise to or which are used to interpret or communicate with e are about something.

Background Information

OBO Foundry
Example IAO term: measurement unit label
Data and values in the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations
Modeling Information with the Common Core Ontologies (CCO)


Truth and the Ontology of Maps
From Speech Acts to Document Acts


Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith, "Aboutness: Towards Foundations for the Information Artifact Ontology", Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (ICBO) (CEUR 1515), 2015.
Barry Smith, Tatiana Malyuta, Ron Rudnicki, William Mandrick, David Salmen, Peter Morosoff, Danielle K. Duff, James Schoening & Kesny Parent, "IAO-Intel: An Ontology of Information Artifacts in the Intelligence Domain", Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Semantic Technologies for Intelligence, Defense, and Security (STIDS), (CEUR 1097), 2013, 33-40.
Janna Hastings, Christopher Batchelor, Fabian Neuhaus, Christian Steinbeck, "What's in an 'is about' link? Chemical diagrams and the Information Artifact Ontology", Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (ICBO) 2011.
Mary Bone, Mark Blackburn, Benjamin Kruse, John Dzielski, Thomas Hagedorn and Ian Grosse, "Toward an Interoperability and Integration Framework to Enable Digital Thread", Systems, 2018, 6(4), 46;

Examples of ontologies extending IAO

IAO has been used as starting point for a large number of ontologies in the biomedical and bioinformatics domain. We list here some examples of direct or indirect reuse of IAO in non-biomedical fields.

Information Artifact Ontology (IAO)
Ceusters W. An information artifact ontology perspective on data collections and associated representational artifacts. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2012;180:68–72.
Barton, Adrien et al. “An ontological analysis of medical Bayesian indicators of performance.” Journal of biomedical semantics vol. 8,1 1. 3 Jan. 2017, doi:10.1186/s13326-016-0099-4
Chemical Information Ontology (CHEMINF)
Common Core Cyber Ontology (C3O)
Communication Standards Ontology (CSO)
Comparative Data Analysis Ontology (CDAO)
Conceptual Model Ontology (CMO)
Core Data Integration Model (CDIM)
Decision Ontology
Document Act Ontology (D-Acts)
Email Ontology
Exposé: an ontology for data mining experiments (see also:here)
eXtended Formal Ontology (XFO)
General Information Model (GIM)
Information Security Domain (ISD) ontology
Informed Consent Ontology (ICO)
Knowledge Object Reference Ontology (KORO)
Mental Functioning Ontology (MF)
Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI)
Ontology for Documentation of Variable/Data Source Selection (ODVDS)
Ontology of Data Mining (OntoDM)
Ontology of Datatypes (OntoDT) (see also:here)
Ontology of Experimental Variables and Values (OOEVV) (see also: here)
Ontology for Information Science (OntoforInforScience)
Ontology-Based Data Access (OBDA)
Ontology-Based eXtensible Data Model (OBX)
Ontology-Driven Information System (ODIS) / Ontology-Driven Scenario Generator (ODSG)
Proper Name Ontology (PNO)
Provenir ontology for provenance modeling
Scientific Evidence and Provenance Information Ontology (SEPIO)
Semanticscience Integrated Ontology (SIO)
Sentinel: Platform for Semantic Enrichment of Social Media Streams
Situation Awareness Ontology (SAO)
Sketch Map Ontology
Software Ontology (SWO)
Statistics Ontology (STATO)
Survey Ontology
United Nations System Document Ontology (ONTO-UNDO)
VIVO Ontology