Ontolog Forum

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Ontology Summit 2021: Ontology Generation and Harmonization

The Ontology Summit is an annual series of events that involves the ontology community and communities related to each year's theme chosen for the summit. The Ontology Summit was started by Ontolog and NIST, and the program has been co-organized by Ontolog and NIST along with the co-sponsorship of other organizations that are supportive of the Summit goals and objectives.


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.

Different types of ontologies have different uses and require different techniques. Some major types include: foundational, reference, domain, and application ontologies. The different types overlap. This track will survey the landscape of ontology types and propose guidelines on how to identify the type of an ontology and how to use it.

A definition is a formal statement of the meaning or significance of an entity, including words, phrases, classes and properties. Accordingly, definitions can serve as links between formal ontologies and informal ontologies as well as between different formal ontologies. Historical attempts to standardize terms included creating core metadata models and common conceptual models for combining data into a single representation. These however have largely failed to be adopted because of flawed conceptualizations, lack of community agreement, inadequate representation and thus amount to silos. Some progress has been made leveraging best practices including the use of ontological analysis and design. This track will survey the different notions and levels of formality of definitions and practical methods to harmonize a variety of semantic resources.

Ontologies can now be created using automated techniques such as NLP and ML. This track will survey the current techniques, including neuro-symbolic and commonsense approaches that combine logic and language processing. The goal is to propose guidelines on the most appropriate use of the techniques.

Many organizations, including government agencies, standards bodies and commercial firms, use ontologies and have developed tools for various ontological activities, such as creation, evolution, mapping and other forms of harmonization. This track will survey the extent to which organizations are addressing sustainability. One aspect of sustainability is for the ecosystem in which we all reside and how ontologies could help achieve sustainability. Another aspect is achieving sustainable ontologies in the communities served by organizations.


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 relevant to the topic. Our findings will be supported with examples from the various domains of interest. The results will be captured in the form of the Ontology Summit 2021 Communiqué, with expanded supporting material provided on the web and in journal articles.

Process and Deliverables

Similar to our last fifteen summits, this Ontology Summit will consist of virtual discourse (over our archived mailing lists), virtual presentations and panel sessions at recorded video conference calls.

Meetings are at Noon US Eastern Time on Wednesdays.


ConferenceCall 2021 02 03IntroductionLaunch
ConferenceCall 2021 02 10A and DThe Ontological Landscape
ConferenceCall 2021 02 17BDefinitions
ConferenceCall 2021 02 24CNeuro-Symbolic Learning Ontologies
ConferenceCall 2021 03 03AThe Ontological Landscape
ConferenceCall 2021 03 10AThe Ontological Landscape
ConferenceCall 2021 03 17BAdvantages of Formal Definitions
ConferenceCall 2021 03 24GeneralJohn Sowa
ConferenceCall 2021 03 31SynthesisSynthesis
ConferenceCall 2021 04 07CNeuro-Symbolic Learning Ontologies
ConferenceCall 2021 04 14DSustainability of Ontologies
ConferenceCall 2021 04 21AThe Ontological Landscape
ConferenceCall 2021 04 28BDefinitions
ConferenceCall 2021 05 05CNeuro-Symbolic Learning Ontologies
ConferenceCall 2021 05 12SynthesisSynthesis
ConferenceCall 2021 05 26SynthesisSynthesis
ConferenceCall 2021 06 02Communiqué Workshop
ConferenceCall 2021 06 09Communiqué Workshop
ConferenceCall 2021 06 16Communiqué Workshop
ConferenceCall 2021 06 30Communiqué Workshop