A requirements catalogue for ontology languages

If you could ‘mail order’ a language for representing ontologies or fancy knowledge graphs, what features would you want it to have? Or, from an artefact development viewpoint: what requirements would it have to meet? Perhaps it may not be a ‘Christmas wish list’ in these days, but a COVID-19 lockdown ‘keep dreaming’ one instead, although perhaps it may even be feasible to realise if you don’t ask for too much. Either way, answering this on the spot may not be easy, and possibly incomplete. Therefore, I have created a sample catalogue, based on the published list of requirements and goals for OWL and CL, and I added a few more. The possible requirements to choose from currently are loosely structured into six groups: expressiveness/constructs/modelling features; features of the language as a whole; usability by a computer; usability for modelling by humans; interaction with ‘outside’, i.e., other languages and systems; and ontological decisions. If you think the current draft catalogue should be extended, please leave a comment on this post or contact the author, and I’ll update accordingly.

 

Expressiveness/constructs/modelling features

E-1 Equipped with basic language elements: predicates (1, 2, n-ary), classes, roles, properties, data-types, individuals, … [select or add as appropriate].

E-2 Equipped with language features/constraints/constructs: domain/range axioms, equality (for classes, for individuals), cardinality constraints, transitivity, … [select or add as appropriate].

E-3 Sufficiently expressive to express various commonly used ‘syntactic sugarings’ for logical forms or commonly used patterns of logical sentences.

E-4 Such that any assumptions about logical relationships between different expressions can be expressed in the logic directly.

 

Features of the language as a whole

F-1 It has to cater for meta-data; e.g., author, release notes, release date, copyright, … [select or add as appropriate].

F-2 An ontology represented in the language may change over time and it should be possible to track that.

F-3 Provide a general-purpose syntax for communicating logical expressions.

F-4 Unambiguous, i.e., not needed to have negotiation about syntactic roles of symbols, or translations between syntactic roles.

F-5 Such that every name has the same logical meaning at every node of the network.

F-6 Such that it is possible to refer to a local universe of discourse (roughly: a module).

F-7 Such that it is possible to relate the ontology to other such universes of discourse.

F-8 Specified with a particular semantics.

F-9 Should not make arbitrary assumptions about semantics.

F-10 Cater for internationalization (e.g., language tags, additional language model).

F-11 Extendable (e.g., regarding adding more axioms to same ontology, add more vocabulary, and/or in the sense of importing other ontologies).

F-12 Balance expressivity and complexity (e.g., for scalable applications, for decidable automated reasoning tasks).

F-13 Have a query language for the ontology.

F-14 Declared with Closed World Assumption.

F-15 Declared with Open World Assumption.

F-16 Use Unique Name Assumption.

F-17 Do not use Unique Name Assumption.

F-18 Ability to modify the language with the language features.

F-19 Ability to plug in language feature extensions; e.g., ‘loading’ a module for a temporal extension.

 

Usability by computer

UC-1 Be an (identifiable) object on the Web.

UC-2 Be usable on the Web.

UC-3 Using URIs and URI references that should be usable as names in the language.

UC-4 Using URIs to give names to expressions and sets of expressions, in order to facilitate Web operations such as retrieval, importation and cross reference.

UC-5 Have a serialisation in [XML/JSON/…] syntax.

UC-6 Have symbol support for the syntax in LaTeX/…

UC-7 Such that the same entailments are supported, everywhere on the network of ontologies.

UC-8 Able to be used by tools that can do subsumption reasoning/taxonomic classification.

UC-9 Able to be used by tools that can detect inconsistency.

UC-10 Possible to read and write in the document with simple tools, such as a text editor.

UC-11 Unabiguous and simple grammar to ensure parsing documents as simple as possible.

 

Usability & modelling by humans

HU-1 Easy to use

HU-2 Have at least one compact, human-readable syntax defined which can be used to express the entire language

HU-3 Have at least one compact, human-readable syntax defined so that it can be easily typed up in emails

HU-4 Such that no agent should be able to limit the ability of another agent to refer to any entity or to make assertions about any entity

HU-5 Such that a modeller is free to invent new names and use them in published content.

HU-6 Have clearly definined syntactic sugar, such as a controlled natural language for authoring or rendering the ontology or an exhaustive diagramamtic notation

 

Interaction with outside

I-1 Shareable (e.g., on paper, on the computer, concurrent access)

I-2 Interoperable (with what?)

I-3 Compatible with existing standards (e.g., RDF, OWL, XML, URIs, Unicode)

I-4 Support an open networks of ontologies

I-5 Possible to import ontologies (theories, files)

I-6 Option ot declare inter-ontology assertions

 

Ontological decisions

O-1 3-Dimensionalist commitment, where entities are in space but one doesn’t care about time

O-2 3-Dimensionalist with a temporal extension

O-3 4-Dimensionalist commitment, where entities are in spacetime

O-4 Standard view of relations and relationships (there is an order in which the entities participare)

O-5 Positionalist relations and relationships (there’s no order, but entities play a role in the relation/relationship)

O-6 Have additional primitives, such as for subsumption, parthood, collective, stuff, sortal, anti-rigid entities, … [select or add as appropriate]

O-7 Statements are either true or false

O-8 Statements may vague or uncertain; e.g., fuzzy, rough, probabilistic [select as appropriate]

O-9 There should be a clear separation between natural language and ontology

O-10 Ontology and natural language are intertwined

 

That’s all, for now.

Logics and other math for computing (LAC18 report)

Last week I participated in the Workshop on Logic, Algebra, and Category theory (LAC2018) (and their applications in computer science), which was held 12-16 February at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. It’s not fully in my research area, so there was lots of funstuff to learn. There were tutorials in the morning and talks in the afternoon, and, of course, networking and collaborations over lunch and in the evenings.

I finally learned some (hardcore) foundations of institutions that underpins the OMG-standardised Distributed Ontology, Model, and Specification Language DOL, whose standard we used in the (award-winning) KCAP17 paper. It concerns the mathematical foundations to handle different languages in one overarching framework. That framework takes care of the ‘repetitive stuff’—like all languages dealing with sentences, signatures, models, satisfaction etc.—in one fell swoop instead of repeating that for each language (logic). The 5-day tutorial was given by Andrzej Tarlecki from the University of Warsaw (slides).

Oliver Kutz, from the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, presented our K-CAP paper as part of his DOL tutorial (slides), as well as some more practical motivations for and requirements that went into DOL, or: why ontology engineers need DOL to solve some of the problems.

Dirk Pattinson from the Australian National University started gently with modal logics, but it soon got more involved with coalgebraic logics later on in the week.

The afternoons had two presentations each. The ones of most interest to me included, among others, CSP by Michael Jackson; José Fiadeiro’s fun flexible modal logic for specifying actor networks for, e.g., robots and security breaches (that looks hopeless for implementations, but that as an aside); Ionuț Țuțu’s presentation on model transformations focusing on the maths foundations (cf the boxes-and-lines in, say, Eclipse); and Adrian Rodriguez’s program analysis with Maude (slides). My own presentation was about ontological and logical foundations for interoperability among the main conceptual data modelling languages (slides). They covered some of the outcomes from the bilateral project with Pablo Fillottrani and some new results obtained afterward.

Last, but not least, emeritus Prof Jennifer Seberry gave a presentation about a topic we probably all should have known about: Hadamard matrices and transformations, which appear to be used widely in, among others, error correction, cryptography, spectroscopy and NMR, data encryption, and compression algorithms such as MPEG-4.

Lots of thanks go to Daniel Găină for taking care of most of the organization of the successful event. (and thanks to the generous funders, which made it possible for all of us to fly over to Australia and stay for the week 🙂 ). My many pages of notes will keep me occupied for a while!

CFP for WS on Logics and reasoning for conceptual models (LRCM’13)

From the ‘advertising department’ of promoting events I co-organise: here’s the Call for Papers for the LRCM’13 workshop.

================================================================
First Workshop on Logics and Reasoning for Conceptual Models (LRCM 2013)
14th of December 2013, Stellenbosch, South Africa
http://www.cair.za.net/LRCM2013/
co-located with the 19th International Conference on Logic for Programming,
Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning (LPAR-19), Stellenbosch, South Africa
==============================================================

There is an increase in complexity of information systems due to, among others, company mergers with information system integration, upscaling of scientific collaborations, e-government etc., which push the necessity for good quality information systems. An information system’s quality is largely determined in the conceptual modeling stage, and avoiding or fixing errors of the conceptual model saves resources during design, implementation, and maintenance. The size and high expressivity of conceptual models represented in languages such as EER, UML, and ORM require a logic-based approach in the representation of information and adoption of automated reasoning techniques to assist in the development of good quality conceptual models. The theory to achieve this is still in its infancy, however, with only a limited set of theories and tools that address subtopics in this area. This workshop aims at bringing together researchers working on the logic foundations of conceptual data modeling languages and the reasoning techniques that are being developed so as to discuss the latest results in the area.

**** Topics ****

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
– Logics for temporal and spatial conceptual models and BPM
– Deontic logics for SBVR
– Other logic-based extensions to standard conceptual modeling languages
– Unifying formalisms for conceptual schemas
– Decidable reasoning over conceptual models
– Dealing with finite and infinite satisfiability of a conceptual model
– Reasoning over UML state and behaviour diagrams
– Reasoning techniques for EER/UML/ORM
– Interaction between ontology languages and conceptual data modeling languages
– Tools for logic-based modeling and reasoning over conceptual models
– Experience reports on logic-based modelling and reasoning over conceptual models

To this end, we solicit mainly theoretical contributions with regular talks and implementation/system demonstrations and some modeling experience reports to facilitate cross-fertilization between theory and praxis. Selection of presentations is based on peer-review of submitted papers by at least 2 reviewers, with a separation between theory and implementation & experience-type of papers.

**** Submissions ****

We welcome submissions in LNCS style in the following two formats for oral presentation:
– Extended abstracts of maximum 2 pages;
– Research papers of maximum 10 pages.
Both can be submitted in pdf format via the EasyChair website at https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=lrcm13

**** Important dates ****

Submission of papers/abstracts: 14 October 2013
Notification of acceptance:     14 November 2013
Camera-ready copies:            2 December 2013
Workshop:                       14 December 2013

**** Organisation ****

Maria Keet, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, keet@ukzn.ac.za
Diego Calvanese, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, calvanese@inf.unibz.it
Szymon Klarman, CAIR, UKZN / CSIR-Meraka Institute, South Africa, szymon.klarman@gmail.com
Arina Britz, CAIR, UKZN / CSIR-Meraka Institute, South Africa, abritz@csir.co.za

**** Programme Committee ****

Diego Calvanese, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy
Szymon Klarman, CAIR, UKZN / CSIR-Meraka Institute, South Africa
Maria Keet, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Marco Montali, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy
Mira Balaban, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Meghyn Bienvenu, CNRS and Universite Paris-Sud, France
Terry Halpin, INTI International University, Malaysia
Anna Queralt, Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Spain
Vladislav Ryzhikov, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy
Till Mossakowski, University of Bremen, Germany
Alessandro Artale, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy
Giovanni Casini, CAIR, UKZN / CSIR-Meraka Institute, South Africa
Pablo Fillottrani, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina
Chiara Ghidini, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Italy
Roman Kontchakov, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom
Oliver Kutz, University of Bremen, Germany
Tommie Meyer, CAIR, UKZN / CSIR-Meraka Institute, South Africa
David Toman, University of Waterloo, Canada