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[protege-owl] Separating TBox and ABox

Timothy Redmond tredmond at
Wed Nov 17 10:20:44 PST 2010

On 11/17/2010 06:39 AM, Jdisc Sobrename wrote:
> Ps: Sorry if the message arrived 2 times.
> Hi,
> I don´t have sure if I should use OWL API or Protege-OWL API for this, 
> but my question is, if I want to separate the TBox and ABox, in a 
> programing level, can I do that?

If you use the Manchester OWL api (, this would 
not be hard to develop.  There may very well be a utility somewhere for 
this but I am not sure where it is.  To develop it from scratch you 
think about the original ontology as a set of axioms.  Your job is to go 
through the axioms and decide which of these are tbox axioms and which 
of these are abox axioms.  By and large the choice will be determined by 
the type of axiom.  So OWLDataPropertyAssertionAxiom's and 
OWLObjectPropertyAssertionAxiom's would go in the abox and 
OWLSubClassOfAxiom's would go in the tbox.

Roughly speaking, if I were to write this from scratch, I would

   1. open the source ontology and create the tbox and abox ontologies
   2. loop through sourceOntology.getAxioms()
         1. pass each axiom to an axiom visitor which would decide
            whether to add the axiom to a list of abox axioms or a list
            of tbox axioms
   3. add the collected changes to the tbox and abox ontologies
   4. save the tbox and abox ontologies

For someone who is used to the Manchester OWL api this utility could be 
written very quickly.  It is very likely that there is a utility for 
this - probably in the OWL api.  You could ask this on the owl api 
mailing list page.


> For example, I can just use a method like:
> ontology.getAllIndividuals();
> and then save them separatedly? Or I will loose some references and 
> need to keep them together?
> best regards,
> João
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