On July 6th through 9th I participated in the 9th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS 2016) in Annecy, France. As usual, in order to force myself to pay attention and to share the knowledge with others, I wrote quick summaries of the presentations that were given during the event.
The first day was reserved for the Joint Ontology Workshops, from which I chose to attend Onto.Com, the 4th International Workshop on Ontologies and Conceptual Modeling.
In this edition, Onto.Com focused on foundational ontologies and their meta-ontological choices. Representatives from well-known foundational ontologies (BORO, DOLCE, GFO, UFO, etc.) were invited to apply their ontology to the same case study and highlight the meta-ontological choices being made. Examples of such choices can be seen at the CFP & Case Study page of Onto.Com.
Chris Partridge presented BORO and described its meta-ontological choices explicitly: endurantism; eternalism; space-time; modally flat; higher-order universals; nominalism (for universals); extensional identity (for particulars); materialism; and linear time. His slides (if eventually made available) have more detailed information on these choices. There was discussion about one particular choice of BORO, which is to not have two tuples with the same elements. For instance, if John is married to Mary and they are also colleagues, there’s only one (John, Mary) tuple that represents both relations. BORO is concerned with being able to count the objects and not having a plethora of objects in the model.
Nicola Guarino represented DOLCE and focused the presentation on qualities and relations; the distinction between descriptive and non-descriptive qualities/relations; and their reification. There was some discussion on the meaning of reification in this sense (compared to, for instance, reifying models as RDF triples).
Pierre Grenon described BFO main tenets. It is an ontology of universals. It has a bi-perspective on temporal matters: continuants (3D entities, no temporal parts, have lives and participate in events) and occurrents (4D entities, have spatiotemporal parts, include lives and histories, processes and events in which continuants participate). Continuants could be thing-like (have parts, lower dimensinoal, can be aggregated, have properties) or property-like (of all sorts, e.g., relational, monadic, specifically dependent, generally dependent, etc.).
After lunch break, Mike Bennett presented FIBO (Financial Industry Business Ontology), which is not a foundational ontology but was invited to show their meta-ontological choices as well. Unfortunately, I had some problems to take care of after lunch and missed most of his presentation.
Frank Loebe presented the meta-ontological choices of GFO: integrative realism; object-process integration; abstract entitites; higher-order types; no possible worlds (explanatory account, linear time); space and time; and eternalism. His slides (if eventually made available) have more detailed information on these choices. Categories in BFO are divided in universals (Platonic and Aristotelian) and concepts (mind-dependent, possibly socially agreed). There are three strata to which entities may belong: material, psychological and social strata. Some entities may “span” several strata. Categories can also be primitive (all instances are individuals), higher-order (all instances are categories) or mixed.
Last presentation: Giancarlo Guizzardi presented UFO’s choices. UFO was strongly driven by “what is real” in the discourse of conceptual modelers and also by classical problems in the area. It has also an underlying Design Science agenda of building engineering artifacts and is concerned with pragmatic efficiency of the derived representations. In a nutshell, UFO has a fundamental distinction between Endurants (can change in time maintaining their identity and include qualities, dispositions, models, relators, etc.) and Perdurants (polygenic manifestations of dispositions, extensional and immutable entitites, events that change the world by bringing about situations that activate certain dispositions). There is a typology of endurant types (kinds, phases, roles, etc.) and a rich theory of parthood. There was a lot of discussion regarding relators.
The workshop finished with a discussion on the foundational ontologies and directions for the community.]