Ontologies Come of Age
Knowledge Systems Laboratory
Stanford University

Abstract: Ontologies Come of Age

Ontologies have moved beyond the domains of library science, philosophy, and knowledge representation. They are now the concerns of marketing departments, CEOs, and mainstream business. Research analyst companies such as Forrester Research report on the critical roles of ontologies in support of browsing and search for e-commerce and in support of interoperability for facilitation of knowledge management and configuration. One now sees ontologies used as central controlled vocabularies that are integrated into catalogues, databases, web publications, knowledge management applications, etc. Large ontologies are essential components in many online applications including search (such as Yahoo and Lycos), e-commerce (such as Amazon and eBay), configuration (such as Dell and PC-Order), etc. One also sees ontologies that have long life spans, sometimes in multiple projects (such as UMLS, SIC codes, etc.). Such diverse usage generates many implications for ontology environments.

In this paper, we will discuss ontologies and requirements in their current instantiations on the web today. We will describe some desirable properties of ontologies. We will also discuss how both simple and complex ontologies are being and may be used to support varied applications. We will conclude with a discussion of emerging trends in ontologies and their environments and briefly mention our evolving ontology evolution environment.

Deborah L. McGuinness ``Ontologies Come of Age ''. In Dieter Fensel, Jim Hendler, Henry Lieberman, and Wolfgang Wahlster, editors. Spinning the Semantic Web: Bringing the World Wide Web to Its Full Potential. MIT Press, 2003.

This pre-print version of the paper to be published is available in word format and html format.

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