Ontolog Forum

Ontology Summit 2016: Semantic Integration for Geographically Distributed Sensor and Control Systems - Thu 2016-03-31

Session Co-Chairs: Gary Berg-Cross and Ken Baclawski


  • Context: A general belief that there is a convergence on standards for interoperability components, including catalogs, vocabularies, services and information models. The application of ontologies to provide semantics for this interoperability has been an active area of research in several disciplines including the GeoSciences where it now plays a central role in tackling the problems of semantic heterogeneity.
  • Perception: In an era of Big Data and Big Science diverse GeoScience data are increasingly being collected across many domain areas and wide spatial scales.
    • Increasingly interdisciplinary work requires some way of efficiently handling system, service and data heterogeneity. Valid and formal semantics is perceived to be a way of addressing these challenges.
    • The GeoSciences are broadly defined to include not only the Earth Sciences but also geographically distributed sensor networks, such as air traffic control and power grids.
  • Motivation: Report on activities such as NSF’s EarthCube that feature different GeoScience domains working on semantic interoperability issues to promote understanding of the state of the art across different approaches and what challenges remain:
    • What are the ranges of GeoScience ontologies used across the domain?
    • How have ontologies been enhanced and expanded for use and reuse?
    • What issues of knowledge building and reuse have been noted?
    • What new standards might be




  • Steve Ray (Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley) Semantic Interoperability Issues for the Smart Grid slides
  • [Marshall Ma] (RPI) SEM+: a tool for concept mapping in geoscience slides
  • Shirly Stephen and Torsten Hahmann (University of Maine) "Semantic Alignment of the Groundwater Markup Language with the Emerging Reference Hydro Ontology HyFO" slides
    • Abstract: A set of different ontologies and data models, including a number of standards, exist for the hydrology domain. While these have achieved some level of technical interoperability for water data integration and exchange, semantic integration of water data remains a challenge, for a number of reasons. The ontologies and data models (1) are mostly fragmented and disconnected, (2) lack foundational grounding, and (3) semantically differ in how hydrological and hydrogeological terms are used. We investigate the use of an emerging, rigorously axiomatized reference ontology for the hydro domain, the Hydro Foundational Ontology (HyFO), to overcome these heterogeneities by integrating the existing hydro ontologies and data models with HyFO. HyFO formalizes general concepts that are central to water storage below and above the ground surface through rigorous and detailed axiomatization in first-order logic. This work presents first results of integrating the Ground Water Markup Language (GWML2), a conceptual model specific to groundwater monitoring, with HyFO by grounding GWML2 concepts logically in HyFO’s concepts and relations. More generally, this work demonstrates how to effectively utilize formal ontological analysis and rigorous axiomatizations in the development and integration of geoscience ontologies.

Synthesis Page

More coming soon.....Please contribute to the synthesis page at Talk:ConferenceCall_2016_03_31.

Conference Call Details

  • Date: Thursday, 31-Mar-2016
  • Start Time: 9:30am PDT / 12:30pm EDT / 6:30pm CEST / 5:30pm BST / 1630 UTC
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[12:29] gary berg-cross: Mike will be late but Ken is doing it all today.

[12:31] Donna Fritzsche: its spring break for many in the US

[12:35] MarshallMa: join.conference is working on skype

[12:35] MarshallMa: when prompted enter Conference ID: 843758#

[12:40] Donna Fritzsche: Note: Important Concept - Bridging concepts even in the same domain (Ken B)

[12:43] ToddSchneider: Mark, started on the synthesis?

[12:47] gary berg-cross: @Todd, Yes we have started on a Synthesis. We have notes at

[12:49] ToddSchneider: Standards represent closed domains. Interoperability is about crossing domain boundaries.

[12:51] Donna Fritzsche: great interface Steve - we need more transitional UIs like this. (slide 6)

[12:52] ToddSchneider: Has this been applied to the UML specification?

[12:52] Donna Fritzsche: UIs - to take advantage of the power of OWL/Sparql queries w/o learning the nuances of syntax/etc

[12:53] Ruth: This is exactly what I've been calling for web service specifications (e.g., OGC W*S, OPeNDAP, OAI-PMH, etc.)

[12:53] Donna Fritzsche: Ruth - I don't understand your acronyms - can you explain (briefly)

[12:53] Ruth: that way we might some day get the same type of web service implemented the same way by two different repositories

[12:54] Donna Fritzsche: +1 @ruth

[12:54] Ruth: those were all web service names common in the Earth sciences

[12:54] Donna Fritzsche: thank-you

[12:57] Mark Underwood: "Explaining" can be important. @TayAndYou could have used that.

[13:02] ToddSchneider: Steve, did the process of representing the 'rules' require changes to the ontology (to facilitate rule representation)?

[13:04] ChristopherSpottiswoode: Steve, what would need to be added to the OWL model to enable a simulation of a real system?

[13:06] LeoObrst: @Steve: did you use a NL->formal rule translator, e.g., a controlled English? Were these SPIN rules? How do you like SPIN rules?

[13:06] ToddSchneider: Steve, this is a great use of semantic technologies and particularly reasoning.

[13:10] Donna Fritzsche: Maybe need rule-driven State Machine for running rules (SPIN)

[13:13] SteveRay: @Leo: These were SPIN rules. No controlled English. They work OK. I do find that many of the rules require condition checking to make sure they don't redundantly fire. But generally they are tractable.

[13:14] SteveRay: @Christopher: To simulate a real system, you would need to think about constantly changing values. In our current work, we are basically testing a static snapshot. With changing values, one possibility is to start using things like "Magic properties" which are computed on the fly.

[13:17] SteveRay: @Donna: I agree. One thing I'm stumbling on is how to know when the reasoning engine is finished, so that I can change state. In the TopBraid environment, the only thing I can think of right now is to embed the system inside a SPARQLMotion script. I'd rather not add that complexity, but I may have to go there.

[13:20] Donna Fritzsche: @Marshall - have you looked at Ross Quinlan's work on ID3?

[13:22] ChristopherSpottiswoode: Steve and Donna: By calculating timesliced value-sets for successive moments in time, you get a series of states that together are in effect equivalent to a state machine's behavior. Or so it seems to me, in a rather off-the-cuff way.

[13:24] Donna Fritzsche: @christopher - I am pointing to more of a context-driven control of the rule processing. To Todds point- this could become an ontology of its own.

[13:27] ChristopherSpottiswoode: Donna, yes indeed. The context would provide the initial values for a simulation, the model would provide rates-of-change, in their turn according to the context allowing the calculation using the model of next consistent set of values.

[13:29] BobbinTeegarden: An ontology that includes/is based on process (and the dependent information modeled around the process) would enable a single view of process and data. If one could then use something (like SPARQL with an 'execute' extension) one could create 'executable' ontologies. Referring back to Steve's problem, if the processes were composed of sub-processes, one could get to modeling process in the large, not just sequences of rules (process in the small).

[13:30] Donna Fritzsche: @Marshall - great work - you might also look for old papers by Craig Stanfill/David Waltz for similar ideas (Towards memory-based reasoning).

[13:31] ChristopherSpottiswoode: Bobbin - yes!

[13:31] Donna Fritzsche: Agreed Bobbin.

[13:32] ToddSchneider: Marshall, what is the source of 'vocabularies' used for your testing?

[13:32] Donna Fritzsche: Christopher - are you solving the simulation problem as opposed to the process problem - while similar - I think they are different.

[13:33] ToddSchneider: Marshall, how sensitive is your process to the representation of the vocabularies (into an ontology language)?

[13:34] gary berg-cross: Marshall, thanks for a clear presentation. Can you provide a link to the article?

[13:35] ChristopherSpottiswoode: Donna, good question. But sorry I have to log off now. I'll follow up in another way - Thanks!

[13:36] Donna Fritzsche: Thanks!

[13:39] MarshallMa: @DonnaFritzsche: ID3 is very relevant. Thanks for the information!

[13:39] MarshallMa: @DonnaFritzsche: and the papers of Craig and David

[13:40] MarshallMa: @ToddSchneider: We tested the method with vocabulary terms from IOOS Platform Vocabulary, IOOS Parameter Vocabulary, MMI Platform Ontology, Climate and Forecast (CF) Standard Names Parameter Vocabulary and DRDC Atlantic NADAS Parameter Codes

[13:44] MarshallMa: @ToddSchneider:"how sensitive is your process to the representation of the vocabularies" <-- Do you mean the properties used in encoding vocabularies and the property mapping in the computation? Some property mapping between OWL, SKOS, and RDFS is pre-assigned in the process. But for some user defined properties there could be an extra step to first identify the property mapping (actually you can also call it ontology mapping).

[13:45] MarshallMa: @Gary: Details of the paper: Zheng, J., Fu, L., Ma, X., Fox, P., 2015. SEM+: tool for discovering concept mapping in Earth science related domain. Earth Science Informatics 8 (1), 95-102.

[13:49] ToddSchneider: Marshall, yes (i.e., properties used in 'encoding' (aka representation) ...).

[13:53] Donna Fritzsche: Shirly - can you comment on what your next steps might be?

[13:55] Donna Fritzsche: Thank-you

[13:56] MarshallMa: @ToddSchneider: A property mapping step is necessary. Some properties can be pre-matched such as rdfs:label and rdfs:comments. But use-defined properties always need some extra attention.

[13:58] ToddSchneider: Marshall, have you compared results using different encodings/representations to try to identify biases?

[13:58] gary berg-cross: @Shirly & Torsten Just an observation that you have interesting, specific relations such as inter-granular constituent.

[14:00] MarshallMa: Some properties can be pre-matched such as rdfs:label and rdfs:comments <- I mean to match s-p-o triples of rdfs:label of two concepts, not to match rdfs:label to rdfs:comments

[14:00] Mark Underwood: Shirly / Torsten - Are there issues that arise b/c the ontologies model fluids vs. static objects, e.g, "contamination" as applies to groundwater

[14:00] Mark Underwood: I think you answered it

[14:00] Donna Fritzsche: good question michael

[14:01] MichaelGruninger: @Shirly: What were the benefits of using an upper ontology (in your case DOLCE)? Did it help to alleviate problems with semantic integration, or did it actually lead to additional problems because you had to integrate all of the other ontologies with DOLCE?

[14:01] ToddSchneider: Shirly & Torsten, did you import DOLCE or just use it for alignment?

[14:03] gary berg-cross: @Torsten Are you aware of other "Reference" ontologies in the GeoSciences or SensorNet domains?

[14:05] gary berg-cross: @Torsten Do you find DUL useful?

[14:09] Mark Underwood: Discussion begun by Michael re: role of upper ontologies; @SteveRaySteve senses cultural challenges ("just now acclimating to XML") . . .

[14:09] ToddSchneider: Michael, is your question more about use/application of ontological analysis to disambiguate notions?

[14:10] Donna Fritzsche: Or a toolkit to base the design on moving forward.

[14:10] TorstenHahmann1: @Gary: we haven't used it at all and didn't so far find a need for it since we are only talking about static physical space. That may change in the future with the integration of flow patterns

[14:11] Donna Fritzsche: @Steve - would it make sense that you need a lego-like tool kit of common reusable memes (actor, role,device..).

[14:11] Donna Fritzsche: It seems that everyone reinvents that set of wheels

[14:12] Mark Underwood: Topic is highly relevant in IoT integration. Talk earlier today included detailed challenges of integrating geospatial data from devices bus / consumers buy @ HomeDepot, then integrate w/ enterprise apps

[14:13] gary berg-cross: @Steve As I recall in a previous presentation of an earlier Summit, you talked about Bridge Ontologies.

[14:14] TorstenHahmann1: @Gary: I agree with the need for documenting the benefits of using a reference ontology and/or a upper ontology. So far, we have primarily kept track of proposed revisions to GWML that are much better justified because of reasonable foundational distinctions in DOLCE/HyFO

[14:14] ToddSchneider: Donna, No. Providing a set of pre-defined notions (e.g., UML) only prolongs the use of a cookie cutter mentality and avoids the types of analyses that provide long term value.

[14:15] Donna Fritzsche: What it they were part of an ontology Todd - that was my intent

[14:15] Donna Fritzsche: Not sure what you meant

[14:15] ToddSchneider: The value of using upper ontologies has already been described in previous summits.

[14:16] Donna Fritzsche: But - then why are the questions still there. It does not seem to be solved.

[14:16] Donna Fritzsche: And also - please allow for alternate opinions.

[14:17] ToddSchneider: Donna, any ontology has a scope, assumptions, and possibly embedded biases. If these 'constraints' were made explicit so that potential users are aware of them, then I would agree. Otherwise, no.

[14:18] Donna Fritzsche: That was my intent Todd - do not know why you were so quick to jump on the no band-wagon.

[14:18] Mark Underwood: Rete? Really? :)

[14:18] TorstenHahmann1: I think within our community the benefits are known, but not beyond our community. I do think that concrete examples (as opposed to benefits at a general level) would really help make a more tangible case

[14:18] gary berg-cross: A topic for next year's Summit "Reasoning over Ontologies."

[14:19] Donna Fritzsche: This seems to be part of Semantic Interoperability to me - but a specific case

[14:20] Donna Fritzsche: Agreed that it would be a good topic for future thought/summit

[14:23] gary berg-cross: John Sowa like Riple Down rules for AI Richards, Debbie. "Two decades of ripple down rules research." The Knowledge Engineering Review 24.02 (2009): 159-184.

[14:24] Mark Underwood: @Steve - despite your reservations, that catalog/agenda of issues & tradeoffs is where many of (us) practitioners are struggling to find a way to steady the ontology role in SDLC

[14:24] TorstenHahmann1: We also employ the reference ontology HyFO as a bridge ontology (bridging more focussed hydro ontologies)

[14:25] SteveRay: SDLC?

[14:25] ToddSchneider: Donna, I continually run into situations where people have expectations of interpretations of natural language terms that are not consistent nor complete for the application in which they want to use them - they have not analyzed the situation sufficiently (also I get stuck trying to fit things into UML constructs that really don't fit).

[14:25] ToddSchneider: Thank you all. have to go. Cheers.

[14:26] Donna Fritzsche: Thanks for your input Todd - and the follow-up.

[14:28] gary berg-cross: Ontohub is one such repository

[14:28] SteveRay: @Donna: To your comment at :11, that is exactly what the architecture committee in the smart grid world is seeking. At present, the four core concepts are Actor, Service, Contract, and "ServiceComposition". That last one is something I'm not very fond of, since it can be achieved with normal mereological relations.

[14:29] TorstenHahmann1: We plan on putting the formalized version of GWML into COLORE, another repository from the OOR initiative. HyFO is mostly available from there already.

[14:29] Donna Fritzsche: @Steve - thanks for additional info! I think its useful work.

[14:30] SteveRay: Thanks!

[14:30] Donna Fritzsche: Thank you all! Have a great week.

[14:31] TorstenHahmann1: Thanks Gary and Ken for organizing the track!

[14:37] Mark Underwood: Software Development Life Cycle SDLC


Audio Recording

audio recording