Results of the OWL feature popularity contest at OWLED 2014

One of the events on the OWLED 2014 programme–co-located with ISWC2014–was the OWL feature popularity contest, with as dual purpose to get a feel of possible improvements to the OWL 2 standard and to generate lively discussions (though the latter happened throughout the workshop already anyway). The PC co-chair, Valentina Tamma, and I had collected some questions ourselves and we had solicited suggestions for question from the participants beforehand, and we used a ‘software-based clicker’ (audience response system) during the session so that participants could vote and see results instantly. The remainder of this posts contains the questions and the results. We left the questions open, so you still can vote by going to govote.at and fill in the number shown in the left-hand bottom in the screenshots, and try to skew the outcome your way (voting is anonymous). I’ll check the results again in two weeks…

1.The first question referred back to discussions from around 2007 during the standardization process of OWL 2: Several rather distinct features were discussed for OWL 2 that didn’t make it into the standard; do you (still) want any or all of them, if you ever did?

  • n-ary object properties, with n>2
  • constraints among different data properties, be this of the same object or different objects
  • unique name assumption
  • all of them!
  • I don’t really miss any of them

The results, below, show some preference for constraints among data properties, and overall a mild preference to at least have some of them, rather than none.

Voting results of question 1

Voting results of question 1

2. Is there any common pattern for which you would propose syntactic sugar?

  • Strict partial ordering
  • Disjoint transitive roles
  • Witnessed universal/closure: adding existentially quantified to a universal (Carral et al., OWLED14)
  • Witnessed universal/closure: adding universally quantified to an existential (raised in bio-ontologies literature)
  • Specific patterns; e.g., episodes
  • Nothing really

The results, below, are a bit divided. Carral et al.’s paper presented the day before seems to have done some good convincing, given the three votes, and the strict partial ordering, i.e., a pattern for parthood also received some votes, but about half of the respondents weren’t particularly interested in such things.

Voting results of question 2

Voting results of question 2

3. Ignoring practicalities on (in)feasibility, which of the following set of features would you like to see OWL to be extended with most?

  • Temporal
  • Fuzzy and Probabilistic
  • Rough sets
  • I’m not interested in any of these extensions

The results show that some temporal extension is the clear winner, which practically isn’t going to be easy to do, unfortunately, because even minor temporal extensions cause dramatic jumps in complexity. Other suggestions for extensions made during the discussion were more on data properties (again) and a way to deal with measurement units.

Voting results of question 3

Voting results of question 3

4. Which paradigm do you prefer in order to model / modify your ontologies in an ODE?

  • Controlled natural language
  • Diagram-based tool
  • Online collaborative tool
  • Dedicated ontology editor
  • Text editor
  • No preference
  • It depends on the task

Results again in the figure below. The interesting aspect is, perhaps, that there was no one who had no preference, and no one preferred a diagram-based tool. Mostly, it depends on the task, then some tool that caters for collaborative ontology development.

Voting results of question 4

Voting results of question 4

5. There are four standardised optional syntaxes in OWL 2. If due to time/resource constraints, tool compatibilities, etc., not all optional syntaxes could be accommodated for in an “OWL 3.0”, which could be discontinued, according to you, if any?

  • OWL/XML
  • Functional style
  • Turtle
  • Manchester
  • They all should stay

The latter option, that they all should stay, was selected most among the participants, though not by a majority of voters, and I’m sure it would have ended up differently with more participants (based on discussions afterward). Note: by now, the voting was shown ‘live’ as the responses came in cf. the earlier hide-and-show.

Voting results of question 5

Voting results of question 5

6. Turning around the question phrasing: Which feature do you like less?

  • Property chains
  • Key
  • Transitivity
  • The restrictions limiting the interactions between the different property characteristics (thus preventing certain patterns)
  • They are all useful to a greater or lesser extent

Options B and D generated a lively debate, but the results show clearly that the participants who voted wanted to keep them all.

Voting results of question 6

Voting results of question 6

7. Which of the following OP characteristics features do you consider most important when developing an ontology?

  • reflexivity
  • irreflexivity
  • symmetry
  • asymmetry
  • antisymmetry
  • transitivity
  • acyclicity

This last question appeared a no-brainer among the choices, with a unanimous transitivity above all. It was raised whether functional ought to have been included, which we intentionally had not done, for it’s a different kind of constraint (cardinality/multiplicity) than the properties of properties. The results most likely would have looked quite different if we did.

Voting results of question 7

Voting results of question 7

The results were supposed to be on the OWLED community page, but I have from reliable source (the general chair of OWLED14, Bijan Parsia) that the software doesn’t seem to be very friendly and feature rich, hence a quick post here. You can read Bijan’s live blogging of the presentations at OWLED there as well. The proceedings of the workshop are online as CEUR-WS vol. 1265.

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Considering some stuff—scientifically

Yay, now I can say “I look into stuff” and actually be precise about what I have been working on (and get it published, too!), rather than just oversimplifying into vagaries about some of my research topics. The final title of the paper I settled on is not as funny as proposing a ‘pointless theory’ [1], though: it’s a Core Ontology of Macroscopic Stuff [2], which has been accepted at the 19th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (EKAW’14).

The ‘stuff’, in philosophical terms, are those things that are in natural language indicated typically with mass nouns, being those things you can’t count other than in quantities, like gold, water, whipping cream, agar, milk, and so on. The motivation to look into that was both for practical and theoretical reasons. For instance, you are working in the food industry and thus have to be concerned with traceability of ingredients, so you will have to know which (bulk) ingredients originate from where. Then, if something goes wrong—say, an E. coli infection in a product for consumption—then it would be doable to find the source of the microbial contamination. Most people might not realize what happens in the production process; e.g., some quantity of milk comes from a dairy farm, and in the food processing plant, some components of a portion of the milk is separated into parts (whey separated from the cheese-in-the-making, fat for butter and the remainder buttermilk). To talk about parts and portions of such stuffs requires one to know about those stuffs, and how to model it, so there can be some computerized tracking system for swift responses.

On the theoretical side, philosophers were talking about hypothetical cases of sending molecules of mixtures to Venus and the Moon, which isn’t practically usable, in particular because it was glossing over some important details, like that milk is an emulsion and thus has a ‘minimum portion’ for it to remain an emulsion involving many molecules. Foundational ontologies, which I like for their modeling guidance, didn’t come to the rescue either; e.g., DOLCE has Amount of Matter for stuffs but stops there, BFO has none of it. Domain ontologies for food, but also in other areas, such as ecology and biomedicine, each have their own way of modelling stuff, be this by source, usage, or whatever, making things incompatible because several criteria are used. So, there was quite a gap. The core ontology of macroscopic stuff aims to bridge this gap.

This stuff ontology contains categories of stuff and is formalised in OWL. There are distinctions between pure stuff and mixtures, and differences among the mixtures, e.g., true solutions vs colloids among homogeneous mixtures, and solid heterogeneous mixtures vs. suspension among heterogeneous mixtures, and each one with a set of defining criteria. So, Milk is an Emulsion by its very essence, regardless if you want to assign it a role that it is a beverage (Envo ontology) or an animal-associated habitat (MEO ontology), Blood is a Sol (type of colloid), and (table) Sugar a StructuredPureStuff. A basic alignment of the relations involved is possible with the stuff ontology as well regarding granules, grains, and sub-stuffs (used in cyc and biotop, among others).

The ontology both refines the DOLCE and BFO foundational ontologies and it resolves the main type of interoperability issues with stuffs in domain ontologies, thereby also contributing to better ontology quality. To make the ontology usable, modelling guidelines are provided, with examples of inferences, a decision diagram, outline of a template, and illustrations solving the principal interoperability issues among domain ontologies (scroll down to the last part of the paper). The decision diagram, which also gives an informal idea of what’s in the stuff ontology, is depicted below.

Decision diagram to select the principal kind of stuff (Source: [2])

Decision diagram to select the principal kind of stuff (Source: [2])

You can access the stuff ontology on its own, as well as versions linked to DOLCE and BFO. I’ll be presenting it in Sweden at EKAW late November.

p.s.: come to think of it, maybe I should have called it smugly “a real ontology of substance”… (substance being another term used for stuff/matter)

References

[1] Borgo S., Guarino N., and Masolo C.. A Pointless Theory of Space Based On Strong Connection and Congruence, in L. Carlucci Aiello, J. Doyle (eds.), in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KR’96), Morgan Kaufmann, Cambridge Massachusetts (USA), 5-8 November 1996, pp. 220-229.

[2] Keet, C.M. A Core Ontology of Macroscopic Stuff. 19th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (EKAW’14). 24-28 Nov, 2014, Linkoping, Sweden. Springer LNAI. (accepted)