Content Ontology Design Patterns: Qualities, Methods, and Tools

Abstract: Ontologies are formal knowledge models that describe concepts and relationships and enable data integration, information search, and reasoning. Ontology Design Patterns (ODPs) are reusable solutions intended to simplify ontology development and support the use of semantic technologies by ontology engineers. ODPs document and package good modelling practices for reuse, ideally enabling inexperienced ontologists to construct high-quality ontologies. Although ODPs are already used for development, there are still remaining challenges that have not been addressed in the literature. These research gaps include a lack of knowledge about (1) which ODP features are important for ontology engineering, (2) less experienced developers' preferences and barriers for employing ODP tooling, and (3) the suitability of the eXtreme Design (XD) ODP usage methodology in non-academic contexts.This dissertation aims to close these gaps by combining quantitative and qualitative methods, primarily based on five ontology engineering projects involving inexperienced ontologists. A series of ontology engineering workshops and surveys provided data about developer preferences regarding ODP features, ODP usage methodology, and ODP tooling needs. Other data sources are ontologies and ODPs published on the web, which have been studied in detail. To evaluate tooling improvements, experimental approaches provide data from comparison of new tools and techniques against established alternatives.The analysis of the gathered data resulted in a set of measurable quality indicators that cover aspects of ODP documentation, formal representation or axiomatisation, and usage by ontologists. These indicators highlight quality trade-offs: for instance, between ODP Learnability and Reusability, or between Functional Suitability and Performance Efficiency. Furthermore, the results demonstrate a need for ODP tools that support three novel property specialisation strategies, and highlight the preference of inexperienced developers for template-based ODP instantiation---neither of which are supported in prior tooling. The studies also resulted in improvements to ODP search engines based on ODP-specific attributes. Finally, the analysis shows that XD should include guidance for the developer roles and responsibilities in ontology engineering projects, suggestions on how to reuse existing ontology resources, and approaches for adapting XD to project-specific contexts.

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