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2 What Are Ontologies?
Pages 3-8

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From page 3...
... Scientists today use the word ontology to refer to efforts to organize knowledge in particular domains. Although there is no universal definition of a scientific ontology, a valuable working definition is an explicit, formal specification of a shared conceptualization -- a systematic set of shared terms and an explication of their interrelationships.1 As a simple example, an ontology might define and categorize types of ice cream products, distinguishing among those served in vessels, in cones, and on sticks, as shown in Figure 2-1.
From page 4...
... Also during the 10th century, scholars in China produced a massive compendium of knowledge, the Taiping Yulan, which organized knowledge under 5000 headings across 55 categories. More modern examples emerged during the Enlightenment: for example, Denis Diderot proposed the Encyclopédie, co-written with Jean le Rond d'Alembert and originally published between 1751 and 1772, as a means to fundamentally change how humans think and what humans know.
From page 5...
... Figure 2-2 illustrates the spectrum of semantic specification used in the context of the behavioral sciences, showing where controlled lists, thesauri, loose hierarchies, and taxonomies fall. Controlled lists, such as a list of social and behavioral determinants of health, are enumerations of specifically defined terms that help to provide consistency for users of the list.
From page 6...
... The controlled vocabulary allows for indexing, cataloging, and searching of psychological concepts. Diagnostic and A loose hierarchy of the behavioral phenotypic manifestation of Statistical Manual mental disorders using a common language and standard criteria of Mental Disorders based on consensus.
From page 7...
... Considering this variety and the importance of designing classification structures to suit the needs of the researchers in a particular domain, the committee found that it was not useful to try discern a strict cutoff below which a structure would not be considered an ontology or to classify known structures as ontologies or "non-ontologies." Instead, we highlight that the structures that exist along this continuum in the behavioral sciences serve ontological purposes that are scientifically valuable. These examples are discussed in more detail below.

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