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[protege-discussion] From UML to Ontologies?

Samson Tu swt at
Tue Jan 29 12:27:46 PST 2008

Thomas Russ wrote:
> On Jan 29, 2008, at 4:48 AM, Herwig Wens wrote:
>> Dear Community,
>> Currently we are kicking off an enterprise architecture program in  
>> our company.
>> We had a look at Protege and ontologies in general to see we could  
>> use this as a way of storing our domain model.
>> Meanwhile we already had defined our domain model in UML.
>> Being not so familiar with ontologies -- I have a numbe of questions:
>> Which ontology flavor is the best option for describing a domain  
>> model?
> This is a tough question to give a one-line answer to.
> A lot depends on what type of domain model you want to describe, and  
> what sorts of reasoning you wish to do with that model.  You would  
> need to use a language and set of tools that allow you to express your  
> domain model correctly and perform any necessary reasoning.
> Frames are a bit closer to an object-oriented model.  OWL is a strict  
> logical model, but comes with stronger semantic guarantees and well- 
> founded reasoners. Frames support default values, whereas OWL is  
> strictly monotonic.  There are also some additional considerations, so  
> if you had some specific issues or questions, it would be easier to  
> provide guidance.

Another difference in the modeling approaches of frame and OWL is that, 
in my experience, metaclasses are used extensively in Protege frame, but 
hardly ever in OWL, where meta-data are modeled as annotation properties.

Furthermore, OWL's open-world assumption surprises many people used to 
database/OO-oriented modeling.

Samson Tu                                   email: swt at
Senior Research Scientist                   web:
Center for Biomedical Informatics Research  phone: 1-650-725-3391
Stanford University                         fax: 1-650-725-7944

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