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Law and Order: Assessing and Enforcing Compliance with Ontological Modeling Principles in the Foundational Model of Anatomy

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Zhang S, Bodenreider O
Comput Biol Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;36(7-8):674-93. Epub 2005 Sep 6.
Abstract: 

The objective of this study is to provide an operational defnition of principles with which well-formed ontologies should comply. We define 15 such principles, related to classifcation (e.g., no hierarchical cycles are allowed; concepts have a reasonable number of children), incompatible relationships (e.g., two concepts cannot stand both in a taxonomic and partitive relation), dependence among concepts, and the co-dependence of equivalent sets of relations. Implicit relations - embedded in concept names or inferred from a combination of explicit relations - are used in this process in addition to the relations explicitly represented. As a case study, we investigate the degree to which the Foundational Model of Anatomy (FMA) - alarge ontology of anatomy - complies with these 15 principles. The FMA succeeds in complying with all the principles: totally with one and mostly with the others. Reasons for non-compliance are analyzed and suggestions are made for implementing effective enforcement mechanisms in ontology development environments. The limitations of this study are also discussed.

Zhang S, Bodenreider O. Law and Order: Assessing and Enforcing Compliance with Ontological Modeling Principles in the Foundational Model of Anatomy Comput Biol Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;36(7-8):674-93. Epub 2005 Sep 6.