Ontolog Forum

Ontology Summit 2016 : Framing the Conversation: Ontologies within Semantic Interoperability Ecosystems

The OntologySummit is an annual series of events (first started by Ontolog and NIST in 2006) that involves the ontology community and communities related to each year's theme chosen for the summit. The Ontology Summit program is now co-organized by Ontolog, NIST, NCOR, NCBO, IAOA, NCO_NITRD along with the co-sponsorship of other organizations that are supportive of the Summit goals and objectives.


The necessity for systems to interoperate has become crucial to the conduct of business and operations in organizations. In practice, however, interoperability is difficult to achieve, since each of these applications utilizes information in a different way, and the knowledge representation formalisms inherent to these applications are also different. In particular, existing approaches to interoperability lack an adequate specification of the semantics of the terminology used by the systems, which leads to inconsistent interpretations and uses of knowledge.

The mission statement for the first Ontology Summit (Upper Ontologies, March 2006) noted that agreement on upper level ontologies would facilitate semantic interoperability (SI) among other ontologies. In turn, the benefit would be "to enable a large degree of compatibility and interoperabiity for the many projects developing knowledge bases that include the most common mid-level concepts".

Ontologies and related reasoning systems (both terms used in the broadest sense) are key to the facilitation of semantic integration and interoperability. How do we define the frameworks which support this interoperability? What is required to achieve optimal performance across applications and domains? What have we learned in the last 10 years? How do we frame the conversation when discussing the role of ontologies with various stakeholders?

As part of Ontology Summit 2016, we seek to explore, identify and articulate how ontologies and ontological methods can facilitate semantic interoperability. We solicit input and anticipate that summit presenters and participants will help identify the methods, tools and architectures which utilize or might utilize ontologies to facilitate semantic interoperability. Practical considerations will be brought to the forefront, but philosophical and theoretical questions will be addressed as they arise.

During the course of these talks, speakers will address the methodologies, successes and challenges of semantic interoperability within the areas of

  • Healthcare
  • Earth Sciences
  • Engineering and manufacturing
  • Finance and Retail

We will

  • explore the techniques that people are using to achieve semantic integration and interoperability;
  • articulate the framework that supports semantic integration and interoperability;
  • identify the role that ontologies play in these frameworks;
  • abstract a set of discussion points to better characterize this role.

We will draw from learnings gleaned in past summits and extend our knowledge based on domain-specific talks and summit attendee active participation As part of our discussion, we intend to examine, question and extend past summit findings including but not limited to Communiqués addressing:

  • The Role of Upper Ontologies (2006),
  • Ontology-based Standards (2009),
  • Ontology Evaluation across the Ontology Lifecycle (2013)
  • The Internet of Things: Toward Smart Networked Systems and Societies (2015)

As part of Ontolog’s general advocacy to bring ontology science and engineering into the mainstream, we endeavor to abstract a conversational toolkit from the sessions that may facilitate discussion and knowledge sharing amongst stakeholders of various SI ecosystems and architectures. Our findings will be supported with examples from the various domains of interest. The results will be captured in the form of a 2016 Summit Communique, with expanded supporting material provided on the web.

Process and Deliverables

Similar to our last ten summits, this Ontology Summit will consist of three months of virtual discourse (over our archived mailing lists) and virtual panel sessions (over augmented conference calls), and culminate in a 2-day face-to-face workshop/symposium on May 9 and 10, during which we, among other things, present our distilled thoughts in a collaboratively developed communiqué. The communiqué is now available at OntologySummit2016/Communique

Structure and Discourse

  • Co-chairs, Tracks and Champions
    • Summit Co-chairs:
    • Symposium Co-chairs:
  • Content Tracks
    • Framing the Conversation
    • Semantic Interoperability in the GeoSciences
    • Cloud Services
    • Healthcare
    • Engineering
    • Finance

Resource Pages

Calendar of Events