Ontological Engineering

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Title: Ontology Engineering Faculty: Barry Smith and Ron Rudnicki Mondays, 4-7pm, Fall 2013, Room:, UB North Campus

Ontologies are an increasingly important tool in all areas of information and systems engineering, where they are used to address issues which arise where data is collected and described by different groups in different ways. Ontologies provide taxonomy-based computerized lexica that can be used to describe diverse bodies of data. They thereby provide a strategy for those who need to aggregate and compare data. They are designed to make data more easily discoverable, and to allow large bodies of data to be more effectively searched and analyzed.

In addition, ontologies play an important role in the so-called Semantic Web, where the Web Ontology Language (OWL) forms a central building block in the stack of web technology standards created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

This course will provide an introduction to ontology technology, focusing on applications in the areas of military intelligence, healthcare, and finance. It will provide an overview of how ontologies are created and used, together with practical experience in the development of OWL ontologies and in the use of associated web technology standards. It will also address some of the human factors underlying the success and failure of ontology projects, including issues of ontology governance and dissemination.

The course will be built out of 3-hour sessions, each of which will involve 2 hours of lecturing and discussion and 1 hour of practical experience with ontology editing software and other semantic web technologies. Students may elect to take the course for 2 credit hours without the practical segment.

The course will feature occasional guest lectures by leading ontologists from Buffalo and elsewhere, including participants in on-going ontology projects.


By the end of the class, students will be able to understand the nature, utility and scope of contemporary ontological engineering. They will understand methods and rules for ontology development; gain experience of what is involved in contributing to ontological initiatives, and learn to understand the benefits and risks of such initiatives.


All students will be required will be required to take an active part in class discussions throughout the semester. In addition they will be required to design and complete an ontology project, including written description (3000 words), creation of a Protege ontology file, and brief presentation of the project in class. Students in the practical segment will be required to complete regular quizzes designed to gauge developing competence in the use of the Protege Ontology Editor and SPARQL query language.


August 26: Basic Introduction to Ontology

We will begin by addressing questions such as: What is an ontology? What are the differences and interrelations between ontology (philosophy), ontology (science), and ontology (engineering)? How are ontologies used? We will also provide an introduction to Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), focusing on a discussion of the question: What is a plan?

Technology SectionLab 1: Introduction to Protégé, iInstallation, cConfiguration, and nNavigation

September 2: Labor Day (no class)

September 9: An Overview of Ontology Projects in Military Domains Technology SectionLab 2: Protégé, bBuilding the tTaxonomy, introduction to defining classes with OWLClass Definitions

September 16: An Overview of Ontology Projects in Healthcare Domains Technology SectionLab 3: Protégé, defining class relationshipsObject Properties, Domain, Ranges, Metaproperties

September 23: Referent Tracking: Use of Ontologies in Tracking Systems (with Werner Ceusters) Technology SectionLab 4: Protégé, aAdditional definitional techniques in OWLClass Restrictions, Set Operations

Label some of the technology sessions “Introduction to [e.g. OWL, SPARQL] so that they cumulate; also simplify the lists

September 30: Ontology and the Semantic Web (with Alan Ruttenberg) Technology SectionLab 5: Protégé, aAnnotation pProperties, and vVersioning

October 7: The CUBRC US Army Ontology Collaboration (with LCOL William Mandrick) Quiz: Protégé and OWL

October 14: An Overview of Ontology Projects in Financial Domains (with Charles Hoffman via Webex?) Technology SectionLab 6: Overview of what we have learned so farProtege, review and advanced topics

October 21: An Overview of Ontology Projects in Manufacturing and Retail Domains Technology SectionLab 7: Introduction to SPARQL, using sSelect qQueries in theto explore DBpedia Endpoint

October 28: An Overview of Ontology Projects in Task Scheduling Domains and in Alert Systems (with Moises Sudit) Technology SectionLab 8: SPARQL, extending sSelect qQueries with fFilters, gGrouping, and bBooleans

November 4: Ontology and Natural Language Processing Technology SectionLab 9: SPARQL, using cConstruct qQueries, to adding instance data

November 11: Ontology and Information Fusion Research (with James Llinas) Technology SectionLab 10: SPARQL, uUpdating instance data

November 18: Ontology, Search and Retrieval –mention google? Technology SectionLab 11: Other Semantic Web tTools: Ontofox, D2RQ, and RDFa

November 25: Presentations of Student Projects Quiz: SPARQL

December 2: Presentations of Student Projects

Background Content video: Introduction to Biomedical Ontology