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Trinity College Dublin

Semantic Interoperability Frameworks

Increasingly semantic web technologies such as ontologies are being used to expose the semantics of information models and web services. This should enable semantic interoperability between applications. However, different ontologies arise due to the natural human diversity in modeling domains. For this reason the area of mapping between ontologies has become very important. Yet, as noted by Tim-Berners Lee in a recent review of the progress of semantic web technologies, ontology mapping remains a key challenge. Currently most ontology mapping systems are proprietary with process and implementation closely intertwined, leading to a lack of consensus and momentum in the development of practical processes and tools.

As part of our research in this area, we have developed the OISIN (Ontology Interoperability in support of Semantic INteroperability) framework. OISIN consists of a technology-neutral specification using UML for the ontology mapping process and an implemenation of a set of tools that support this process.

The process supports a full ontology mapping lifecycle and features a characterisation phase that is currently lacking in the state of the art. Summarized here it includes the phases: characterisation phase, mapping phase, execution phase and management phase. The design of the process supports a continuum of deployment strategies from all mapping activities being undertaken at design time right through to all activities being undertaken at runtime. In addition, organisations are enabled to specialise activities and define which activities will be supported through manual, semi-automated or automated means depending on the intended deployment scenario. The same process can be used whether the determination of what is a mapping is to be undertaken by an expert user, or by the application itself. This allows for the flexible deployment of the tools in many different situations and means that the same tools can be used for either use case. This increases the general utility of the tools and process to an organisation and reduces the amount of user training involved.