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[protege-owl] translating a frame-based ontology into owl

Tania Tudorache tudorache at
Fri Aug 31 16:33:22 PDT 2007

Hi Nacho,

Olivier Dameron has a paper about the challenges involved in converting 
the Foundational Model of Anatomy (FMA) from a frames representation to 
OWL and some proposed solutions:

There are many subtle differences between frames and OWL, which make an 
automatic translation difficult. Some of these differences were very 
briefly presented here:

In Protege, there is a basic frames to OWL converter, that does a 
syntactic and structural translation: the frames classes are translated 
into owl:Class, the slots into datatype or object properties, the 
instances into OWL individuals. The meta-classes from frames are 
converted to OWL meta-classes, by this making the ontology OWL-Full. The 
relationship between the frames instances are preserved in the OWL 
translation, so you will be able to ask the queries you asked in frames 
(the open-world vs. closed-world assumption might be a problem here).

Even though the existing translator is not complete, it might be a good 
starting point.


Nacho Mayorga wrote:
> Hello,
> I was wondering about the best or most proper way of translating an 
> ontology from core-Protégé (frames) into owl. Let me explain the 
> intended use case a bit:
> - the source (lightweight) ontology represents the knowledge 
> underlying (every aspect of) a given software system, including both 
> the system's model and meta-model (as the sw system is meant to 
> reflect changes in its own model) [BTW, having a meta-model, I guess, 
> prevented the automatic translation, as some fillers were classes]
> -  some (typically, n-ary) relations between instances are reified
> - the target ontology should be able to answer the same queries as the 
> source was able to handle (as much as possible)
> - instances in the source are to be added as individuals in the 
> target, as most of the queries would refer to instances, for instance,
>      + how are particular instances related to each other?,
>      + what are their slot fillers?,
>      + does an arbitrary predicate holds for some selected instances 
> or, the other way round, which instances would satisfy a given predicate?
> The practical issues I was pondering were:
>       - is there any good way of representing (and dealing with!) a 
> meta-model? (such as proxy individuals representing the class as a 
> singleton pattern) while still staying within owl-DL?
>       - the attributes are to be represented as properties (in owl), 
> aren't they?:
>            + what about reified relations?:
>                * how would they be best conveyed into owl?
>                * would it be necessary to keep the reification or is 
> there any representation pattern worth exploring?
>            + what if a slot-filler was a class?
>       - could the predicates in the queries (as described above) be 
> represented as subsumption patterns/tests, so that a reasoner could 
> check out their satisfiability?
> Help and comments would be greatly appreciated.
> Thank you very much,
>                                          Nacho
> -- 
> Nacho Mayorga
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