The chapter shows how minimal assumptions on difficult philosophical questions suffice for an engineering approach to the semantics of geospatial information. The key idea is to adopt a conceptual view of information system ontologies with a minimal but firm grounding in reality. The resulting constraint view of ontologies suggests mechanisms for grounding, for dealing with uncertainty, and for integrating folksonomies. Some implications and research needs beyond engineering practice are discussed.


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Support for this work was provided in part by the European Commission (IST project SWING, No. FP6-26514). Many discussions in MUSIL (http://musil.uni-muenster.de) and with other colleagues (Andrew Frank, David Mark, Boyan Brodaric and others) as well as comments from two anonymous reviewers have shaped the ideas expressed and helped me articulate them. I am grateful to Lotfi Zadeh for asking how my approach handles uncertainty, to Andrew Frank for asking where objects come from, and to Mike Worboys for asking why we need to talk about anything beyond terms. The chapter gives some preliminary answers.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Geoinformatics (ifgi), University of MuensterMuensterGermany

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