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A formal visual formalism based on higraph for formal ontology

Grant number: 15/19367-7
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): March 09, 2016
Effective date (End): March 08, 2017
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Computer Science - Computing Methodologies and Techniques
Principal researcher:José Maria Parente de Oliveira
Grantee:José Maria Parente de Oliveira
Host: Barry Smith
Home Institution: Divisão de Ciência da Computação (IEC). Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA). Ministério da Defesa (Brasil). São José dos Campos , SP, Brazil
Research place: State University of New York, Buffalo State (SUNY), United States  


In the nowadays massive data generation, problems very well known since long ago, such as data storage, retrieval, integration, and availability, are becoming even more difficulty to solve due to such a huge and growing amount of distributed data through several data sets. Part of the solution for these problems is closely related to the obtaining of interoperability of data and information systems, in which the data used in one system could be used in another without human intervention. In accordance with Arp et al (2015), an obstacle for interoperability is what they call "imprecise thinking", which is a family of interrelated errors of logic and language use that usually occur during the development of information systems. Among the causes for these problems are the terminologies and formats used for data description and the used technologies to store the data. Even in scientific domains, data repositories contain terminology ambiguities and inconsistencies, and basic logical errors as well. Ontologies have been used with the purpose of promoting better consistency in data description and logical definitions (Arp et al., 2015). On the other hand, a considerable difficulty in ontology building is related to how to describe the domain elements in terms of both human visual support and translation from ontology graphical representation to a computer language. The research question addressed in the present proposal is that despite all the advancements in ontology research, the graphical representations for ontologies are visually polluted, extended, without clear distinction of the represented elements, and lack a formal semantics to better support them. It is not an exaggeration to say that one of the reasons for such limitations is a lack of appropriate mechanisms for a more compact and intuitive representation of entities' properties, hierarchies, part-whole relationships as well as several other types of possible relationships among entities. The general objective of the present research proposal is to extend/adapt the visual formalism higraph (hierarchical graph) to represent domain ontologies defined on the basis of the top ontology Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) (Arp et al., 2015), aiming at providing more compact and intuitive visual representations for these ontologies, with a formal semantics supporting the representations. With the proposal, we expect, among others, the following benefits: * A formal, concise and intuitive way to visually represent BFO ontologies; * Possibility of adapting the defined representation to other ontology types; * Application of the BFO representation in the context of data interoperability; * Possibility of applying the defined representation in several important domains, which have been object of study by the proponent, such as reverse software engineering for critical software, command and control systems and data fusion. (AU)

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