FW: A DAML Spatial Ontology

From: John Flynn (jflynn@bbn.com)
Date: 01/24/03

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    Subject: A DAML Spatial Ontology
    When I talked about the DAML-Time ontology
    (http://www.cs.rochester.edu/~ferguson/daml/) at the last DAML meeting,
    Murray Burke said it would be great for some people to get together
    and do a DAML-Space ontology as well.  This message is an attempt to
    organize such an effort.
    The aim of this ontology would not be to drive out any other work on
    spatial ontologies, but to provide a way for different spatial
    reasoning engines and spatial resources to communicate with each
    other, as well as a way for people to mark up the spatial information
    on their web sites.  The goals of the effort would be to produce an
    ontology that would
        1.  Enable general, though not necessarily efficient, reasoning
            about spatial concepts.
        2.  Link with more efficient specialized reasoning engines for
            spatial reasoning.
        3.  Link with the numerous databases that exist containing a
            wealth of specific, e.g., geographical, spatial information.
        4.  Support convenient query capabilities for spatial
    The topics we would want to cover include the following (where I've
    listed the corresponding topics that DAML-Time covers):
            Space                           Time
            -----                           ----
            Topological relations           Topological relations
              (e.g., RCC8)                    (e.g., interval algebra)
            Dimension                       --
            Shape                           --
            Length, area and volume         Duration
            Latitude, longitude, elevation  Clock and calendar
            Political subdivisions          --
    Please feel free to comment on this list.
    Much of the work will be focused on geographical knowledge, but the
    intent is not to restrict ourselves to this domain alone.  Topological
    spatial relations are important in microbiology, for example.  Other
    application areas that have been suggested are the geology of
    earthquakes, NASA application, computer graphics, and virtual reality.
    Of course to do a thorough spatial ontology is an immense job.  I
    think we can restrict what we need to do by limiting ourselves to
    _linking_ with resources, rather than _duplicating_ them.  For
    example, we would want to be able to interface with a resource on the
    shapes of geographical regions, but we would not need to encode its
    internal representations.
    As with DAML-Time, the aim would be to construct an ontology that
    accomodates many perspectives on controversial issues rather than
    forces a particular perspective.
    Let me know if you would be interested in participating in such an
    effort, as least as far as tracking the email.  Also suggest any
    research and applications you think should be taken into account.  It
    would also be extremely helpful to develop a set of challenge problems
    of varying levels of difficulty to help drive the development of the
    This message is being sent to a rather haphazard set of people, so
    please feel free to forward it to anyone else you think appropriate.
    -- Jerry Hobbs

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