I wanted to know your opinion on the terminology while writing an academic paper.

Consider a scenario: Company ABC use OWL/RDF to describe certain sets of ontologies. Can they name an ontology for a specific aspect (eg. products) as language (e.g Products Description Language)? How are they different from domain-level ontologies (e.g. In Retail/Manufacturing, etc.)

I am trying to draw the same analagy as WSDL/HTML/XHTML, being created using XML/SGML. (both are termed as languages, they have their descriptions along with the corresponding schema)

Often, we see "An Ontology-based approach to describing Products." Is that the only approach possible?

One of my colleagues insists that semantic web service frameworks like OWL-S cannot be called language, they rather an extension to OWL and simply ontologies. However, several areas in W3C submission document, they are referred to as OWL.

Could someone please clear this terminology mess-up?

asked 30 Jan '13, 22:26

semanticz's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 30 Jan '13, 22:36

Do you mean that you'd like to make an ontology and say that the ontology is defining a language of its own? Like, I use XML Schema to define XHTML documents, and I call this the XHTML language? Well, this would be a simplistic view of what's a language. A language requires a semantics, otherwise, it's just a grammar.

I could redefine the XML Schema for XHTML, put it in a file, and reference it from XML documents, but it would not make these documents XHTML. Try:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<html xmlns="xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"
        <p>Yadi yada.</p>

The schema is the same, the document is valid, but a browser cannot do anything with this, because the markup has no meaning here.

It's the same for ontologies. If you don't specify a certain meaning that implementations have to take in consideration, it's not a language. Now, there is always an intended meaning behind ontology terms but as long as you do not require it formally, it's just an indication that people or software may not take in consideration.


answered 31 Jan '13, 03:38

Antoine%20Zimmermann's gravatar image

Antoine Zimm... ♦
accept rate: 32%

Hi Antoine,

Thank you for the explanation. I do understand the term meaning in the context of the redefined xhtml schema. However, we are defining the language ourself for a specific domain. What would be the formal method of providing meaning to an ontology? I am sorry if its a stupid question. I am just confused with the terms.

I was under the impression that ontology description language like OWL (OWL DL/RL etc.) can be used give meaning/semantics and can be tested against a reasoner for instance for high level logic between Machine 2 Machine.

Another related question is regarding initiatives such as OWL-S (Semantic Markup for Web Services) - Would they be called as describing an extension to OWL or just using OWL? I know these sound like trivial terminology issues, but apparently, they are of critical importance.

OWL-based document with statements, in its entirety -> Ontology (when derived from Ontology class)

Statements in OWL -> axioms

Instances of these statements -> facts

A document containing instances of these statements -> ?

Thanks again for the previous answer.

(01 Feb '13, 13:50) semanticz semanticz's gravatar image
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Asked: 30 Jan '13, 22:26

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Last updated: 01 Feb '13, 14:07