Ontologies Come of Age


Ontologies have moved beyond the domains of library science, philosophy, and knowledge representation. They are now the concerns of marketing departments, CEOs, and mainstream business. Research analyst companies such as Forrester Research report on the critical roles of ontologies in support of browsing and search for e-commerce and in support of interoperability for facilitation of knowledge management and configuration. One now sees ontologies used as central controlled vocabularies that are integrated into catalogues, databases, web publications, knowledge management applications, etc. Large ontologies are essential components in many online applications including search (such as Yahoo and Lycos), ecommerce (such as Amazon and eBay), configuration (such as Dell and PC-Order), etc. One also sees ontologies that have long life spans, sometimes in multiple projects (such as UMLS, SIC codes, etc.). Such diverse usage generates many implications for ontology environments. In this paper, we will discuss ontologies and requirements in their current instantiations on the web today. We will describe some desirable properties of ontologies. We will also discuss how both simple and complex ontologies are being and may be used to support varied applications. We will conclude with a discussion of emerging trends in ontologies and their environments and briefly mention our evolving ontology evolution environment. Introduction: The web’s growing needs We may be poised for the next major evolution of online environments. In the early days of the web, HTML pages were generated by hand. The pages contained information about how to present information on a page. Early adopters took to the web quickly since it provided a convenient method for information sharing. Arguably, the generation of tools for machine generation and management of web pages allowed the web to really take off. Tool platforms allowed non-technical people to generate and publish web pages quickly and easily. The resulting pages typically included content and display information and targeted human readers (rather than targeting programs or automatic readers). The web continues to grow at an astounding rate with web pages ubiquitously integrated into many aspects of business and personal life. However, web pages still preserve much of their character of being aimed at human consumption. Thus, applications such as search still require humans to review results pages in order to find the right answer to their queries. While search engine advances such as Google [Google 2000] improve the situation, most people agree that finding the exact information one is seeking on the

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@inproceedings{McGuinness2003OntologiesCO, title={Ontologies Come of Age}, author={Deborah L. McGuinness}, booktitle={Spinning the Semantic Web}, year={2003} }