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A Conceptual Framework for the Biomedical Domain
Specialized domains often come with an extensive terminology, suitable for storing and exchanging information, but not necessarily for knowledge processing. Knowledge structures such as semantic networks, or ontologies, are required to explore the semantics of a domain. The UMLS project at the National Library of Medicine is a research effort to develop knowledge-based resources for the biomedical domain. The Metathesaurus is a large body of knowledge that defines and inter-relates 730,000 biomedical concepts, and the Semantic Network defines the semantic principles that apply to this domain. This chapter presents these two knowledge sources and illustrates through a research study how they can collaborate to further structure the domain. The limits of the approach are discussed.