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An Overview of OntoClean

Part of the International Handbooks on Information Systems book series (INFOSYS)


OntoClean is a methodology for validating the ontological adequacy and logical consistency of taxonomic relationships. It is based on highly general ontological notions drawn from philosophy, like essence, identity, and unity, which are used to elicit and characterize the intended meaning of properties, classes, and relations making up an ontology. These aspects are represented by formal metaproperties, which impose several constraints on the taxonomic relationships between concepts. The analysis of these constraints helps in evaluating and validating the choices made. In this chapter we present an informal overview of the philosophical notions involved and their role in OntoClean, review some common ontological pitfalls, and walk through the example that has appeared in pieces in previous papers and has been the basis of numerous tutorials and talks.


  • Physical Object
  • Essential Property
  • Ontological Commitment
  • Unity Criterion
  • Social Entity

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Many people have made useful comments on OntoClean, and have participated in its refinement. We would like to thank in particular Mariano Fernandez Lopez, Aldo Gangemi, Giancarlo Guizzardi, Claudio Masolo, Alessandro Oltramari.

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Correspondence to Nicola Guarino .

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© 2009 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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Guarino, N., Welty, C.A. (2009). An Overview of OntoClean. In: Staab, S., Studer, R. (eds) Handbook on Ontologies. International Handbooks on Information Systems. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-540-70999-2

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