EDON: A Method for Building an Ontology as Software Artefact


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The current dynamics of organizations produces frequently
changing business rules, involving changes into the software applications that embed them. The use of ontologies as software artefacts intended to encapsulate business rules is a mean to raise the exibility, extensibility
and ease of maintenance of the software applications. Such ontologies should be developed and maintained in conjunction with other software components, so an ontology building methodology must be considered in the context of the software development process. This paper presents an evolutionary method for building ontologies intended to be used as a structural conceptual model of an information system, encoding business rules in a declarative way and enabling the intertwining of ontology and software development processes.

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EDON: A Method for Building an Ontology as Software Artefact

  1. 1. Posgrado EDON A METHOD FOR BUILDING AN ONTOLOGY AS SOFTWARE ARTEFACT Emiliano Reynares, María Laura Caliusco, María Rosa Galli Doctorado en Ingeniería – Mención Sistemas de Información CIDISI UTN FRSF
  2. 2. Posgrado AGENDA 1. The problem 2. Overview of EDON 3. EDON Method 4. Experiences from a study case 5. Discussion and future research directions
  3. 3. Posgrado THE PROBLEM Recognizing the context • Environmental business dynamics • “Embededness” of business rules into software applications
  4. 4. Posgrado THE PROBLEM A proposal Encapsulate business rules in a specific system component RULES BASES, but… • using different attributes to represent the same thing • defining rules based on incompatible notions of the same concept could affect the rule interaction [Zacharias, 2008]
  5. 5. Posgrado THE PROBLEM What about ontologies? As artefacts intended to explicitly represent the data semantics, could encapsulate business rules while avoiding concept misunderstanding BUT… • Ontology building process must be considered in the context of the software development project • Conceptual dynamics issue needs to be tackled [Hepp, 2007] • A descriptive path enable to quickly and smoothly evolve through further extended versions of the ontology
  6. 6. Posgrado EDON Evolutive Development of ONtologies Pursues three goals 1. To develop from scratch an ontology intended to encapsulate the declarative specification of business rules, supporting accurate and well- defined requirements of a software system 2. To enable the intertwining of ontology and software development process, facilitating a quick integration of both artefacts 3. To allow the ontology readily reflect the changes in quickly evolving domains by providing a phase model to evolve through successive versions of the ontology
  7. 7. Posgrado EDON Collaborately performed by 1. Domain Experts DEs interact daily with the problem domain, so they have the knowledge to be modelled 2. Knowledge Engineers KEs have the know-how for representing the reality in a way that supports the requirements of a software application Modelling activities are performed at a high level of abstraction to facilitate the communication between these profiles Short development iterations allow to readily reflect conceptual dynamics and changes in requirements, and both profiles can take advantage of what was learned during the building of earlier versions of the ontology
  8. 8. Posgrado EDON In the context of software development process
  9. 9. Posgrado EDON The process
  10. 10. Posgrado EDON Requirements Selection Process
  11. 11. Posgrado EDON Requirements Selection Process in a study case • Functional requirements selected considering two issues: 1. Ontology should provide ontology-based reasoning over business rules 2. Human users of the software application should not interact directly with the underlying ontology but through the software application. • “Project”, “Researcher”, and “Funding agency” were considered the core entities • A storyboard exposing a functional requirement selected for further development: “The software system should allow a researcher to upload a research project pending approval. During this upload, the software system must validate the input data against the rules defined by the agency intended to funding the project”
  12. 12. Posgrado EDON Ontology Development Process
  13. 13. Posgrado EDON Ontology Specification Activity in a study case Competency Questions [Gruninger et al, 1995] CQ1 What are the requirements a research project must satisfy to be accepted for a funding agency? CQ2 What are the requirements the manager of a research project must satisfy? CQ3 What are the requirements a member of a research project must satisfy? CQ4 What are the documents evaluated for a funding agency? Entities Research Project Researcher Funding Agency Project Member Project Manager Evaluation Documents
  14. 14. Posgrado EDON Ontology Conceptualization Activity in a study case • Representation of the knowledge associated to the domain entities by using the Lexicon Extended Language (LEL) [Leite et al, 1993] • Representation classified in four categories: “object”, “subject”, “verb”, and “state” • Term described by “notion” and “behavioral response” The Project Manager glossary entry Notion It is a Researcher at Category I or II, working in an Execution Unit and managing, at most, two Research Projects. Each Research Project requires, at least, twenty hours- month dedication. Behavioural response To develop research projects; To raise funds for the project execution; To generate reports on project status
  15. 15. Posgrado EDON Ontology Formalization Activity in a study case • Generation of a base ontology by performing a systematic process [Breitman et al, 2004] • It gives an ontological structure to the terminology described in the conceptualization activity • The structure is independent of any ontology implementation language but can be mapped into most of them Concepts Relations Axioms Research Project HasCode HasTitle HasTheme HasManager HasManagerDedication HasReport The manager is a researcher at category I or II The manager must dedicate, at least, twenty hours-month at each managed project.
  16. 16. Posgrado EDON Ontology Refinement Activity in a study case • Extending the base ontology by focusing on the formulation of axioms • Knowledge obtained from the information sources identified • DEs collaborate with the aim of producing the tightest possible model of reality • KEs are focused on supporting a set of functional requirements Axioms If a project report has a 30 day delay, the research project is cancelled If a project report has a 30 day delay, the project manager is suspended If a project report is rejected, the research project is cancelled
  17. 17. Posgrado EDON Ontology Implementation Activity in a study case • Encoding of the ontology in an implementation language • Evaluation increases along development stages. Three dimensions must be evaluated [Burton-Jones et al, 2005] [Gangemi et al, 2006]: 1. Syntactic dimension, regarding the way the ontology is written 2. Semantic dimension, concerning the consistent modelling of the ontology 3. Functional dimension, related to the intended use of the ontology SPARQL queries SELECT ?object WHERE { rpms:Manager rpms:has_Category ?object } SELECT ?object WHERE { rpms:agency_evaluate rdfs:range ?object }
  18. 18. Posgrado EDON Ontology Alignment Process
  19. 19. Posgrado EDON Ontology Aligment Activity in a study case • A new ontology is created by establishing a set of correspondences between entities belonging to two different ontologies [Pavel et al, 2011] • A correspondence Co is a 4-uple { id, e1, e2, r} where: • Id is the identifier of a given correspondence • E1 and e2 are entities of the first and the second ontology, respectively • r is the relation holding between e1 and e2 • So, the correspondence Co:= {id, e1, e2, r} asserts that the relation r holds between the ontologies entities e1 and e2
  20. 20. Posgrado EDON Ontology Aligment Activity in a new iteration Some new terms One-Man Research Project Co-Led Research Project Promoted Research Project Project Co-Manager Promoted Project Team PhD Fellow e1 (Entity of Ontology 1) r (Relation) e2 (Entity of Ontology 2) Research Project ⊇ One-Man Research Project Research Project ⊇ Co-Led Research Project Research Project ⊇ Promoted Research Project Researcher ⊇ PhD Fellow Manager ⊥ Co-Manager Manager ⊥ PhD Fellow
  21. 21. Posgrado EXPERIENCES From a study case 1. Importance of requirements grouping activity Requirements grouping activity has shown a deep influence in the efficiency of the overall ontology development process 2. More powerful conceptualization formalism Although using LEL has proven to be useful to facilitate the communication between the DEs and KEs, a more powerful formalism will improve the way complex business rules are expressed Software development team highlighted the ability to adapt the overall software system to changing business requirements with minor modifications on the software procedural code DEs showed interested on the possibility of embed its knowledge in the software system, participating in the process and evolving from knowledge to ontology in a smooth way
  22. 22. Posgrado DISCUSSION EDON partly draws from the knowledge developed in several fields 1. Using of competency questions from TOVE Project [Gruninger et al, 1995] 2. Definition of iterative life cycle 3. Definition of orthogonal activities 4. Definition of collaborative work of DEs and KEs from Methontology [Fernández-López et al, 1997] 5. Applying of the main principles of XP agile software methodology [Beck, 2000] 6. Using of Application Languages from LELs [Leite et al, 1993] 7. Using of a systematic process to evolve from LELs towards an ontology [Breitman et al, 2004]
  23. 23. Posgrado DISCUSSION Distinctive features 1. Development of an ontology intended as a structural conceptual model of an information system, encoding business rules in a declarative way 2. Aptness to intertwine the software and ontology development process 3. Ontology development through a phase model that takes advantage of the benefits of agile approaches
  24. 24. Posgrado FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS Will be focused on the following areas 1. Tracing a set of guidelines for the correct grouping of requirements will help the experts to improve the requirements selection process 2. Researching for a more powerful formalism for ontology conceptualization with the aim to enable the expression of complex business rules in a high level of abstraction 3. Formulation of a systematic process to generate the ontology structure from such high level expressions 4. Acquiring of additional validation cases
  25. 25. Posgrado Questions? Emiliano Reynares, María Laura Caliusco, María Rosa Galli ereynares@frsf.utn.edu.ar mcaliusc@frsf.utn.edu.ar mrgalli@santafe-conicet.gov.ar CIDISI UTN FRSF