Welcome to the National Center for Ontological Research (NCOR) Collaboration Plaform
Ontology is both a branch of philosophy and a fast-growing component of computer science concerned with the development of formal representations of the entities and relations existing in a variety of application domains. Ontology has been shown to have considerable potential on the level of both pure research and applications. It provides foundations for diverse technologies in areas such as information integration, natural language processing, data annotation, and the construction of intelligent computer systems.
The University at Buffalo and Stanford University have established the National Center for Ontological Research (NCOR) (http://ncor.buffalo.edu), with Buffalo and Stanford as the two principal sites, together with a number of partner institutions drawn from academia, government, and industry (http://ncor.buffalo.edu/about2.htm#researchpartners).
NCOR has the goal of advancing ontological investigation within the United States. It will serve as a vehicle to coordinate, to enhance, to publicize, and to seek funding for ontological research activities in its two principal sites and in its partner institutions. A special focus will be on the establishment of tools and measures for quality assurance of ontologies.
NCOR will provide coordination, infrastructure, and other forms of support for investigators working in the United States on theoretical ontology and on applications in fields such as ontology of the sciences, spatial and cognitive ontology, terminological systems, enterprise ontology and in a variety of defense- and homeland security-related projects.
It will also provide US researchers working in ontology-related areas with specialized support in seeking external funding and in assembling collaborative, interdisciplinary teams both nationally and internationally. It will aid the coordination of ontological projects being pursued by its partner institutions and also develop resources for the implementation and evaluation of ontologies. The Center will also engage in outreach endeavors that are designed to broaden the range of institutions and individuals accepting the goals of high quality ontology in both theory and practice.
Previous efforts at ontology building have been conceived primarily in pragmatic terms, as outgrowths of knowledge engineering or artificial intelligence research, or more generally as projects motivated by the need to solve problems internal to the development of computer systems. NCOR, in contrast, looks beyond the realm of software artifacts, starting out from the idea that the development of ontologies can profit from the application of theoretical rigor based in logic and philosophical ontology.
Too many ontologies used in information systems have been constructed largely by taking as their starting point existing database systems or the conceptualizations used by the practitioners within given domains, without sufficiently checking whether these conceptualizations correspond with identifiable entities and relationships in the world beyond. NCOR advocates a view according to which, in advance of implementation, careful attention should be paid to what the world is like. Our approach does not dictate any particular philosophical or metaphysical stance with respect to the world being modeled. Indeed, we recognize that the same reality may be sliced in different ways when addressed from different perspectives. Our approach requires, however, that, whatever philosophical stance is taken, it is used consistently and rigorously and on the basis of clearly stated principles. At the same time we are devoting our energies to the development of tools designed to help in the selection between ontological frameworks on the basis of criteria such as usability, usefulness and accuracy of reasoning support.
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