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[protege-owl] Ontology Vs Semantic Networks

Victor Manuel vmgcastellanos at
Sun Apr 22 01:54:52 PDT 2007

Ontologies are hard to define, some definitions maight indeed put them as closely related those for semantic networks. For those within the AI community the context in which the ontology is going to be used largely influences the definition of the term; at a glance, an ontology represents a view of the world with the set of concepts and relations amongst them, all of these defined with respect to the domain of interest. Some scholars redefine the term in an effort to capture an absolute view of the world. For instance, John F. Sowa (Sowa 2000a) defines an ontology as: 
 “The study of existence, of all kind of things (abstract and concrete) that make up the world”

Uschold et al (Uschold and Gruninger 1996) describe an ontology as

“A vocabulary of terms and some specification of their meaning”

I understand ontologies as:  “Ontology is an incomplete, formal classification of types of information structured by relationships defined by a domain of knowledge’s vocabulary and by the canonical formulations of its theories”

My definition for ontologies is highly related to computer science. however, it brings together some key elements from more philosophy-related definitions. 

A semantic network might be defined as a DAG in which you relate concepts not types of information -first difference. Please not here that for ontologies you should be careful when using the term concept, as concepts are in our heads, they are subjective representations of the reality. For all the rest, IMHO both share a lot in common, depending on the definition you have for Ontos, and SN. The definition for both of them is highly dependent on the intended  "use".

Hope this helps. 

James Taylor <james.jim.taylor at> wrote: Hello,
 What are the most fundamental differences/similarities between ontologies and semantic networks. 
 I would appreciate any comments or references explaining that.
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