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Handbook on ontologies. 2nd ed. (English) Zbl 1429.68001
International Handbooks on Information Systems. Berlin: Springer (ISBN 978-3-540-70999-2/hbk; 978-3-540-92673-3/ebook). xix, 811 p. (2009).
The second edition of this handbook gives a comprehensive and informative overview of the basics and the use of the term “ontology” in informatics. Moreover, the recent developments in this field are discussed. The authors place special emphasis on illustrative examples, which makes the book readable also for beginners.
The book is written by a large number of experts who discuss a lot of different aspects of ontologies. The handbook covers both theoretical and practical aspects and is divided into the following parts:
Part I: Ontology presentation language
Part II: Ontology engineering
Part III: Ontologies
Part IV: Infrastructures for ontologies
Part V: Ontology-based infrastructure and methods
Parts VI: Ontology-based applications

The introductory chapter starts with a discussion of the topic of the book: What is the meaning of the term “ontology”. Ontology has different meanings in different communities, especially in philosophy and informatics. The monograph restricts itself to ontologies in informatics. R. Studer, one of the editors, has merged the existing definitions for ontologies to: “An ontology is a formal, explicit specification of a shared conceptualization”. It allows one to model a domain by defining the objects of the domain and arbitrary relations between these objects. The use of logical languages allows for sharing of knowledge between different domains. Ontologies are abstract models of some aspects of the chosen domains which use logical languages.
Ontologies play a key role to define common terminologies in different applications as base for shared understanding and are a central part of the Semantic Web. By an easy example the essentials of ontologies are intuitively introduced and discussed. Specifying a conceptualization requires a language. The first part of the book covers different aspects of ontology description languages. The base for developing ontology languages is the first-order logical language. Logical languages are essential to provide inference capabilities for reasoning. The different proposals for ontology languages are discussed. The “Ontology Web Language (OWL)” in the three manifestations OWL-Full, OWL-DL, and OWL-Lite is the official recommendation of the W3C for the presentation of ontologies. These sublanguages differ in expressivity and reasoning. OWL is presented in detail, also its relations to the Semantic Web standards for knowledge presentation and knowledge management RDF and RDFS. Moreover, alternative approaches, such as ontology in F-logic, are presented.
Part II deals with practical development and engineering of ontologies. Among others, it provides a general methodology for ontology-based knowledge management applications and addresses the distributed development of ontologies, which is typical for large ontologies. Different methods and tools for ontology development and evaluation are presented, e.g., “Formal Concept Analysis”, which is based on lattice theory. Ontologies are useful tools on different levels but their development involves considerable effort. Economic aspects of ontology engineering are also analyzed in an article.
General or foundational topologies are domain-independent; domain ontologies, task ontologies and application topologies are more specific concepts. The DOLCE ontology, as an example of a foundational ontology, and an ontology for software, as an example of a domain ontology, are presented in Part III. Examples from different domains demonstrate the utility of the proposed formalization for knowledge management.
The practical use of ontologies needs a powerful infrastructure. One possibility is to use the broadly accepted tools of the Semantic Web, especially of the widely used RDF and RDFS approaches. RDF is essential for ontologies because RDF is widely compatible with OWL, more precisely, any valid RDF/RDFS conclusion is also a valid OWL-Full conclusion. RDF and RDFS can be used for storage and retrieval of ontologies. RDF storage and RDF retrieval tools such as SPARQL are adequate tools to provide ontologies in the Web. Other components of a powerful infrastructure that are discussed in the book are ontology repositories and the development of methods for reasoning and the mapping between ontologies.
Parts V and VI are focused on the use of ontological methods in important applications. The articles demonstrate the great potential of ontologies for different applications in important fields, especially in software engineering, semantic Web services, machine learning, information extraction, knowledge management, recommender systems in specific domains such as bioinformatics or cultural heritage.
The book gives both a nice introduction and an overview of this field for beginners and is also helpful for knowledge management and Semantic Web experts. It makes clear the enormous potential of ontologies and discusses relevant problems for the use and dissemination of ontological methods.

68-00 General reference works (handbooks, dictionaries, bibliographies, etc.) pertaining to computer science
68T30 Knowledge representation
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