ISO 15926 and the Semantic Web


In beautiful Sogndal in Norway, a group of 30 knowledgeable people is gathered today for seminar on the way forward with ISO 15926, and the use of OWL in this regards.

Matthew West, one of the key people behind ISO 15926 (why not give it a name?) gave some background and motivation behind ISO 15926, and how it is trying to model 4D (that objects exists in 3D and time) rather than pure 3D. He also addresses advantages and disadvantages of modeling ISO 15926 in entity-relational languages (e.g. EXPRESS and UML) versus description logic (e.g. OWL). The key take-away here is that OWL has a superior tool support and potentially can represent the complexity of ISO 15926.

The effort of trying to represent ISO 15926 in OWL is presented by Martin George Skjæveland from DNV. ISO 15926 is represented in EXPRESS with two main constructs, Entities and Attributes. They have made a simple translations between express and OWL

Entity owl:class
Subtype rdfs:subclassOf
Disjoint (one of) owl:disjointWith
Abstract owl:equivalentClass, owl:unionOf,
attributes with enity value owl:objectProperty, rdfs:domain, owl:cardianlty 
attributes with datatype value owl:datatypeProperty, rdfs:domain, owl:cardinality
attribute values owl:allVlauesFrom
EXPRESS datatype xsd:datatypes
List linked list in OWL (?) – drummond et. al…
Unique not translated – exeedes functional datatype properties – exeeds OWL DL

Some issues still remains, however it seems like there is almost a 1-to-1 mapping between the ISO 15926-2 EXPRESS and an OWL DL representation allowing the use of Semantic Web languages and tools. A SPARQL endpoint has also been created over the Part-2 of ISO 15926.

The next presentation “Building rich ontologies on OWL version of ISO 15926” by Johan Klüver from DNV starts from the realization is that domain experts use tools like Excel rather than knowledge modeling tools like Protégé. His position is to create “expert friendly interfaces” for domain ontology building where users are giving statements about his domain. The idea is to use Templates that compile statements down to ISO 15926 data structures.

In conclusion, it seems like some right steps has been taken in the direction of OWL. But what about the next steps in this bridge between ISO 15926 and OWL? There are still some issues that are not fully covered among others namespaces? provenance? representing part 4 (the reference data libraries, or domain ontologies) in OWL. And last but not least some more use cases for the ontology would be helpful.

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5 thoughts on “ISO 15926 and the Semantic Web

  1. Lars Marius Garshol

    This made me curious. How do you express that a class is abstract in OWL using owl:equivalentClass and owl:unionOf? My first guess would be that you can’t do it, since OWL doesn’t distinguish between directly expressed statements and inferred statements.

  2. norheimd Post author

    Hi Lars Marius. Observant comment, and you are of course right. Interpreting abstract class as a class that does not have direct instances is not possible in OWL.

    What’s been done in this mapping is to say that the “abstract” class is owl:equivalent to the owl:unionOf it’s sub-classes, which (is assumed) would allow no instance to be part of the abstract class while not part of one (or more) of the sub-classes.

    Of course the above is not completely right, since in an open world assumption you can have incomplete knowledge where you know its part of the abstract class (e.g. Person), while you don’t know which one of the sub-classes the individual belongs to (Male or Female). This is how the real world works… effectively ruling out the possibility of an abstract class…

    That’s also why they call it an “almost 1-to-1 mapping” 🙂

  3. Lars Marius Garshol

    That’s a very clever solution. In practice I guess the OWA wouldn’t be a serious problem here, since the purpose of declaring something abstract is wanting to be notified if something is a direct instance of that class so you can fix it. So while this could be stated without being false a rule like that seems to me a pragmatic solution.

    The reason for asking the question was that I’m working on a TMCL-to-OWL converter where I need to do exactly this. I’ll steal your solution (and credit you in the paper), if you don’t mind.

    Thanks a lot. 🙂

  4. norheimd Post author

    Excellent Lars Marius, feel free to use the same approach – though it is not mine but rather from the ISO 15926 team. Very cool to hear more about interoperability between RDF/OWL and Topic Maps – if you have something publicly available I would love to read it.

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