Finding Fault: Detecting Issues in a Versioned Ontology
Understanding ontology evolution is becoming an active topic of interest for ontology engineers, e.g., there exist large collaboratively-developed ontologies but, unlike in software engineering, comparatively little is understood about the dynamics of historical changes, especially at a fine level of granularity. Only recently has there been a systematic analysis of changes across ontology versions, but still at a coarse-grained level. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Thesaurus (NCIt) is a large, collaboratively-developed ontology, used for various Web and research-related purposes, e.g., as a medical research controlled vocabulary. The NCI has published ten years worth of monthly versions of the NCIt as Web Ontology Language (OWL) documents, and has also published reports on the content of, development methodology for, and applications of the NCIt. In this paper, we carry out a fine-grained analysis of asserted axiom dynamics throughout the evolution of the NCIt from 2003 to 2012. From this, we are able to identify axiomatic editing patterns that suggest significant regression editing events in the development history of the NCIt.
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