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[protege-owl] Rules to modify/create ontologies from ontologies?

Martin O'Connor martin.oconnor at
Tue Oct 7 09:46:40 PDT 2008

We have been using SWRL in several projects to do some of the 
transformations you require. We are using a built-in in a custom library 
[1] to support the mapping of one ontology to another since this type of 
transformation requires the creation of new individuals. This 
instantiation of new individuals is theoretically possible in SWRL, 
though the resulting rules are not very readable. We are experimenting 
with an approach that does not require the use of built-ins and that 
produces clearer rules but do not yet have enough experience with this 
approach to abandon the use of the custom built-in.

A common use case that we have a lot of experience with is developing 
rules to extract subsets of information from larger ontologies and 
transforming this information to instances of an XML ontology that can 
be used to produce XML documents to drive other tools [2].

This nice thing about this approach is that it does not require any 
external tools or languages and the transformation rules can be stored 
with their associated ontologies.

Modifying an ontology in place is probably something that should be done 
outside OWL and SWRL, though.



Johann Petrak wrote:

>Thank you for those pointers!
>OPPL looks fairly high-level and it implements a way to
>create and modify ontologies in an operation way.
>However, it seems to have a limited way of selecting
>the entities to modify and to create new facts from
>existing ones.
>If I understand LSW correctly, the selection of
>existing facts and the creation of new facts has to be
>done on the level of LISP functions (which I like
>personally as I used to program in LISP a lot) and
>hence, on a rather low, programming-language close
>Is anyone aware of any other high-level tools for
>manipulating and creating ontologies from existing
>ones, based on some high-level rule language?
>I think many ontologies will be created or populated in an
>automatic or semi-automatic way or derived from maybe
>several existing ontologies in a (semi-)automatic way.
>For such cases, wouldn't it be good to have something
>that allows for a high-level description of conditions
>or query/resonining results that can be associated with
>consequents that actually carry out fact assertions
>or operations on e.g. literar values?
>I wonder who else has been hitting similar requirements
>and whether there is some agreement on whether such a
>tool (unless it already exists) would be feasable or
>   Johann
>On 10/02/2008 12:10 PM, Alan Ruttenberg wrote:
>>You might look at GONG -
>>There is the OWL API, which can be used to read and write ontologies - 
>>It's a java library. 
>>I use a lisp based tool called LSW which is based JENA and Pellet to do 
>>things like this - a combination of SPARQL queries and direct reasoner 
>>queries, followed by construction of OWL statements based on it. 
>>As an example, see
>>This file generates an anonymous individual that is an instance of each 
>>class that has no subclasses.
>>This file creates disjoint class assertions based on OBI's policy.
>>Hope this helps,
>>On Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 5:14 AM, Johann Petrak <johann.petrak at 
>><mailto:johann.petrak at>> wrote:
>>    Since I got no answer yet I will broaden my question:
>>    what ways exist to systematically change or merge
>>    the knowledge in one or more ontologies into
>>    a new ontology?
>>    Is the only way to do this to hand-code it or
>>    do tool or more formal, e.g. rule-based, approaches
>>    exist?
>>    I'd highly apreciate any feedback about this, even
>>    if it is not a solution -- I'd also apreciate hearing
>>    from people who face similar problems.
>>    Cheers,
>>      Johann
>>    On 09/29/2008 04:24 PM, Johann Petrak wrote:
>>     > I am wondering if there is some high-level, possibly rule-based
>>     > way (as opposed to hacking it in Java or similar) to modify
>>     > an ontology or create a new ontology from an existing one.
>>     >
>>     > Here is the background and motivation: I have a process that
>>     > creates an ontology automatically and due to the sequential
>>     > process and other factors, the created ontology has several
>>     > problems that need to be fixed:
>>     > - several individuals might turn out to be known to be different
>>    or equal
>>     > - properties might need processing and get split up or merged into
>>     > other properties, or data properties might need to get converted
>>     > into one or more object properties filled with individuals that
>>     > need to created or modified.
>>     > - one or more individuals might need to get converted into
>>     > individuals of a different class (representing a different
>>     > abstraction layer).
>>     > - etc.
>>     >
>>     > For all these actions that would modify the ontology or
>>     > create a new one there exists a domain theory that could
>>     > be represented in a rule language where the rule head
>>     > matches conditions in the original ontology and the
>>     > rule body is a sequence of operations on property values
>>     > and on the target ontology.
>>     >
>>     > Does anyone know about a way to (at least partly) achieve
>>     > this or about people who work on similar things?
>>     > Are there others who want to solve this or similar problems?
>>     >
>>     > And as usual: are you aware of other forums, mailing lists
>>     > or places on the internet were questions like this one
>>     > can be discussed?
>>     >
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