Theory and Applications of Ontology: Computer Applications

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The Interplay Between Ontology as Categorial Analysis and Ontology as Technology

  • Roberto PoliAffiliated withUniversity of Trento Email author 
  • , Leo ObrstAffiliated withThe MITRE Corporation

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The notion of ontology today comes with two perspectives: one traditionally from philosophy and one more recently from computer science. The philosophical perspective of ontology focuses on categorial analysis, i.e., what are the entities of the world and what are the categories of entities? Prima facie, the intention of categorial analysis is to inventory reality. The computer science perspective of ontology, i.e., ontology as technology, focuses on those same questions but the intention is distinct: to create engineering models of reality, artifacts which can be used by software, and perhaps directly interpreted and reasoned over by special software called inference engines, to imbue software with human level semantics. Philosophical ontology arguably begins with the Greek philosophers, more than 2,400 years ago. Computational ontology (sometimes called “ontological” or “ontology” engineering) began about 15 years ago.