An Ontological Metamodel of Classifiers and Its Application to Conceptual Modelling and Database Design

  • Jeffrey Parsons
  • Xueming Li
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4801)


Classification is a key concept in conceptual modeling. However, the recognition that there might be different kinds of classes has received limited attention in conceptual modeling research. Most work has focused on the concept of role. However, confusion exists on the definition, properties, and representation of role. In this paper, we propose a metamodel of classifiers based on ontological foundations. We focus on the notion of role in the object-oriented and conceptual modeling literature. The metamodel conforms to the fundamental role features identified in the literature and handles several problems associated with role modeling. Furthermore, we contrast conceptual models created using our metamodel to those created using traditional ER or class modeling approaches, and highlight the database design implications of the differences. Using examples, we demonstrate that relational database schemata generated using our approach are more stable with respect to changing requirements.


Phase Type Association Class Participation Constraint Natural Type Mutual Attribute 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Al-Jadir, L., Leonard, M.: If we refuse the inheritance. In: Bench-Capon, T.J.M., Soda, G., Tjoa, A.M. (eds.) DEXA 1999. LNCS, vol. 1677, Springer, Heidelberg (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bunge, M.: Treatise on Basic Philosophy, vol. 3, Ontology I: The Furniture of the World, Boston: Reidel (1977)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bunge, M.: Treatise on Basic Philosophy vol. 4, Ontology II: A World of Systems, Boston: Reidel (1979)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dahchour, M., Pirotte, A., Zimanyi, E.: A role model and its metaclass implementation, Information Systems. 29(3), 235–270 (2004)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Elmasri, R., Navathe, S.: Fundamentals of Database Systems, 3rd edn. AddisonWesley, London, UK (2000)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Evermann, J.: The Association Construct in Conceptual Modelling - An Analysis Using the Bunge Ontological Model. In: Pastor, Ó., Falcão e Cunha, J. (eds.) CAiSE 2005. LNCS, vol. 3520, pp. 33–47. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Evermann, J., Wand, Y.: Ontology based object-oriented domain modelling: fundamental concepts. Requirements Eng. 10(2), 146–160 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gottlob, G., Schrefl, M., Rock, B.: Extending Object-Oriented Systems with Roles. ACM Trans. Inf. Syst. 14(3), 268–296 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Guarino, N.: Concepts, attributes and arbitrary relations. Data & Knowledge Engineering 8, 249–261 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Guarino, N., Welty, C.: An overview of OntoClean. In: Staab, S., Studer, R. (eds.) Handbook on Ontologies, pp. 151–159. Springer, Heidelberg (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Guarino, N., Welty, C.: Evaluating ontological decisions with OntoClean, Commun. ACM 45(2), 61–65 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Guarino, N., Welty, C.: A formal ontology of properties. In: Dieng, R. (ed.) Proceedings of the 12th Int. Conf. On Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management. LNCS, Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Guizzardi, G., Wagner, G., Guarino, N., McBrien, P., Rizopoulos, N.: An Ontologically Well-Founded Profile for UML Conceptual Models. In: Persson, A., Stirna, J. (eds.) CAiSE 2004. LNCS, vol. 3084, pp. 112–126. Springer, Heidelberg (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Guizzardi, G., Wagner, G., Sinderen, M.: A Formal Theory of Conceptual Modeling Universals, WSPI (2004)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Halpin, T.A.: Business rules and object-role modeling, DBP&D 9(10) (October 1996)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Loebe, F.: An Analysis of Roles - Toward Ontology-Based Modelling, Master’s Thesis, University of Leipzig (2003)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Masolo, C., Guizzardi, G., Vieu, L., Bottazzi, E., Ferrario, R.: Relational Roles and Qua-individuals. In: Roles, an interdisciplinary perspective, AAAI Fall Symposium (2005)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Renouf, D.W., Henderson-Sellers, B.: Towards a Role-Based Framework Approach for User Interfaces. Australian Computer Journal 28(3), 96–106 (1996)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sowa, J.F.: Conceptual Structures: Information Processing in Mind and Machine. Addison-Wesley, New York (1984)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Sowa, J.F.: Using a lexicon of canonical graphs in a semantic interpreter. In: Evens, M.W. (ed.) Relational Models of the Lexicon, pp. 113–137. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1988)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sowa, J.F.: Knowledge Representation: Logical, Philosophical, and Computational Foundations, Thomson Learning (2000)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Steimann, F.: On the representation of roles in object-oriented and conceptual modeling. Data & Knowledge Engineering 35, 83–106 (2000)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Steimann, F.: A radical revision of UML’s role concept. In: Evans, A., Kent, S., Selic, B. (eds.) UML 2000. LNCS, vol. 1939, pp. 194–209. Springer, Heidelberg (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Steimann, F.: Role = Interface: A merger of concepts. Journal of Object-Oriented Programming 14(4), 23–32 (2001)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Steimann, F.: The Role Data Model Revisited. In: Roles, an interdisciplinary perspective, AAAI Fall Symposium (2005)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Wand, Y., Storey, V., Weber, R.: An Ontological Analysis of the relationship Construct in Conceptual Modeling. ACM Transactions on Database Systems 24(4), 494–528 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Welty, C., Guarino, N.: Supporting ontological analysis of taxonomic relationships. Data & Knowledge Engineering 39(1), 51–74 (2001)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wieringa, R., Jonge, W., de Spruit, P.: Using Dynamic Classes and Role Classes to Model Object Migration. Theory and Practice of Object Systems 1(1), 61–83 (1995)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Parsons
    • 1
  • Xueming Li
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, A1B 3X5Canada
  2. 2.Department of Computer Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, A1B 3X5Canada

Personalised recommendations