Ontolog Forum

Session Definitions
Duration 1.5 hour
Date/Time 17 Feb 2021 17:00 GMT
9:00am PST/12:00pm EST
5:00pm GMT/6:00pm CET
Convener Gary Berg-Cross
Track B

Ontology Summit 2021 Definitions

Ontologies are a rich and versatile construct. They can be extracted, learned, modularized, interrelated, transformed, analyzed, and harmonized as well as developed in a formal process. This summit will explore the many kinds of ontologies and how they can be manipulated. The goal is to acquaint both current and potential users of ontologies with the possibilities for how ontologies could be used for solving problems.


  • 12:00 - 12:20 EST Intro to Harmonizing Definitions & Envo Gary Berg-Cross
  • 12:20 - 12:40 EST Cryosphere vocabulary harmonizations with ENVO/SWEET ontologies and extensions to marine science UN Ocean Decade and other initiatives Pier Buttigieg
  • 12:40 -12:50 Example of Tools Kai Blumberg
  • Combined Slides
  • 12:50- 13:15 EST Discussion
  • Video Recording

Conference Call Information

  • Date: Wednesday, 17 Feb 2021
  • Start Time: 9:00am PST / 12:00pm EST / 6:00pm CET / 5:00pm GMT / 1700 UTC
  • Expected Call Duration: 1.5 hours
  • The Video Conference URL is
    • iPhone one-tap :
      • +16465588656,,83077436914#,,,,,,0#,,822275# US (New York)
      • +13017158592,,83077436914#,,,,,,0#,,822275# US (Germantown)
    • Telephone:
  • Chat Room:
    • If the chat room is not available, then use the Zoom chat room.



An attempt was made to split up the various threads during the discussion. No doubt some mistakes were made. Let me know if your comments were misclassified. Ken Baclawski


[12:35] Mariya Evtimova: Can I use ROBOT for alignment of OBO file with another ontology

[12:50] Mariya Evtimova: could you recommend me a tool for manual alignment?

[12:59] Kai Blumberg: @[12:50] Mariya Evtimova: could you recommend me a tool for manual alignment? Manual alignment of what? @[12:35] Mariya Evtimova: Can I use ROBOT for alignment of OBO file with another ontology? You could use a robot template to semi automate the process but it would need another tool or manual strategy to find the mappings. Usually these are done semi-manually

[13:03] Mariya Evtimova: yes I am asking about OBO format ontology OK thank you if you have more information about a useful tool I am interested

[13:12] Alex Shkotin: Mariya, join our group here

[13:15] Alex Shkotin: Mariya, and ask your questions in the group

[13:18] Mariya Evtimova: OK I will ask also in the group thanks


[12:49] Pier Luigi Buttigieg:

[12:50] MichaelGruninger: that sounds like the Foundationless Ontology approach

[12:51] MichaelGruninger: i.e. the ability to use domain ontologies with different upper ontologies

[12:51] MichaelGruninger: that was @Todd

[12:53] Pier Luigi Buttigieg: This where we'll store templates as dead simple design patterns:

[12:53] Gary Berg-Cross: You can see more about the Robot template at

[12:55] Pier Luigi Buttigieg: @Michael: We have a foundation in BFO, the fact that we're reasonably confident about being able to port to other upper levels doesn't imply otherwise

[12:56] Pier Luigi Buttigieg: Most upper-level ontologies don't diverge that much from the implementation side

[12:56] MichaelGruninger: @Pier Luigi Buttigieg: the ability to port to other upper ontologies is precisely the idea of the foundationless approach.

[12:57] Pier Luigi Buttigieg:

[12:58] MichaelGruninger: There are proponents of particular top-level ontologies that implicitly require the complete adoption of a their top level ontology as a prerequisite for interoperability

[12:58] Pier Luigi Buttigieg: Hmm, I'd say that's more like about portability than lacking a foundation - more like a multi-foundational approach

[12:59] MikeBennett: As a minimum I would think it is important to understand whether the TLO someone chooses to use is Realist of Conceptualist. Less significant for e.g. snow and rocks, but critical for business, finance etc.


[12:35] Leia Dickerson: @Kai-- is the template only for OBO or could it be adapted for RDF/OWL?

[12:37] Pier Luigi Buttigieg: OBO, as a format, is essentially deprecated I think @Kai - is that supported

[12:38] Kai Blumberg: Link to ENVO documentation:


[12:09] RaviSharma: Welcome everyone including our speakers.

[12:08] David Eddy: STARTING with controlled vocabularies! Surely you jest.

[12:09] Terry Longstreth: I concur with David E

[12:10] David Eddy: History we tossed a good vocabulary enforcement tool into the trash in 1993 when told, with the approach of magical search engines, any sort of discipline around terms & meanings simply wouldn't be necessary.

[12:12] Mike Bennett: That diagram always causes confusion - to me it shows the expressiveness (the ability to convey some semantics), not actual semantics. Also some more expressive formats (e.g. XML) are less used to express semantics than less expressive formats (OWL).

[12:12] Alex Shkotin: yes

[12:13] David Eddy: @Gary.. classic is a 700+ page Pentagon dictionary, with 140+ pages of acronyms most with a single meaning.In whose reality does an acronym/abbreviation/initialism have single meaning?

[12:13] Mike Bennett: (cough)

[12:21] David Eddy: "semantically undisciplined".... that's a keeper

[12:17] Pier Luigi Buttigieg: Note that some of these views are showing the inferred hierarchies, rather than the asserted ones

[12:32] Leia Dickerson: Glad to hear about Pier's challenges to balance rigor with the users' thoughts on definitions. It's something we are trying to anticipate on the project I am working on.

[12:36] RaviSharma: Notes, Comments and Questions from Ravi Sharma Feb 17, 2021 Ontology Harmonization Presentations

Case established for Vocabularies (Terms) Harmonization from different domains and existing different domain ontologies. However, we need example of a harmonized multi domain ontology starting with harmonized vocabulary. Can we assume that un-ambiguous telescoping ontologies that are meaningfully integrated such as you have shown are harmonized and for example could connect marine-ecosystems, marine biology, phytoplankton, and physical oceanography? Look at NIEM which has approved identities (word combinations) and built-in relations that operate among domains. Is it an example of harmonized vocabularies only or is also a harmonized Ontology? As far as SWEET and ENVO and similar earth science themes integration, it is lot easier compared to non-terrestrial planetary freezing and sublimation processes dealing with freezing processes in different than water species. Specific case of event relating to Ice-glacier-lake-landslide and ablation is the Nanda-Devi Chamoli Himalayan glacier tragedy where 150+ lives are lost last week. Cryosphere modeling challenge is to explain what happened as there are post incidence data available! Options include soil-landslide, glacier ice ablation, Lake formation and then tsunami like river-flow breaking dams. Another case is recent snow-ice throughout the US but particular ice-forms in Texas causing havoc to life and utilities.

[12:39] MikeBennett: It amuses me that many Texans are throwing out food because they have no power to fridges and freezers. Are they not aware of the fundamental properties of snow? Perhaps this ontology would help

[13:00] Pier Luigi Buttigieg: @Ravi: we can use mass wasting semantics with process relations to link them to downstream mechanical waves :,

[13:03] David Eddy: a huge issue here is that given a lot of initial term capture starts with spreadsheets... where is the change control / Git for spreadsheets?

[13:10] RaviSharma: Kai, Gary other speaker - we thank you for the interaction and making us aware of status of progress in merging and or harmonizing vocabularies etc.?

[13:11] RaviSharma: this is a challenge

[13:12] David Eddy: @ToddS... "requirements" ... like specifications? We're Agile now... we don't need no stinking specs

[13:15] Gary Berg-Cross:

[13:19] RaviSharma: what are the top 3-4 impediments in harmonizing ontologies

[13:19] Gary Berg-Cross: Next week 12:00 - 12:30 EST Artur Garcez, City University of London, Topic: Introduction to NeuroSymbolic Computing 12:30 - 13:00 EST Pascal Hitzler, Kansas State University, Topic: Neural-Symbolic Integration and Ontologies

[13:22] RaviSharma: Ken excellent comment about neuro semantic providing help to the harmonizing efforts such as ENVO

[13:25] ToddSchneider: Meeting ends @13:24 EST


The planned topics to be covered at this session include the following:

  • Introduction to harmonizing “definitions”
  • Example of Global Cryosphere Watch vocabulary harmonization efforts
  • The Environmental ontology (EnvO) – scope, topics, methods, status, philosophy….
  • More on the Cryosphere/EnvO+ harmonization efforts
  • Issues and next steps
  • Planned and unplanned discussion

Here are some references to some of the relevant work involved:

Previous Meetings

... further results

Next Meetings

... further results