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[protege-owl] Query about constructing an ontology based on received OWL-DL fragments on your behalf

William Fitzgerald wfitzgerald at
Mon Feb 6 07:16:57 PST 2012

Hi all,

I would like your opinion about composing an OWL-DL ontology based on received ontology fragments 
from other users/knowledge sources on your behalf.

Traditionally, if I wanted to use a knowledge within another ontology, I would simply import it. 
However, this imports the entire ontology into my own local one, rather than certain portions or 
relevant fragments.

What I would like to do, is allow knowledge received from another user with respect to a classes, 
properties and individuals that I would like to add to my own ontology.

Consider the following trivial ontology scenario to list the kinds of car manufactures etc.
Lets say I define a class called "Car" and define locally a number of subclasses, for example Ford.

<owl:Class rdf:ID="Ford">
     <rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Car"/>

where xmlns=""

I would now like to receive knowledge from Ford about its cars. Imagine Ford send me new knowledge 
about a new kind of Ford car called Fiesta (a subclass of Ford).

The following OWL-DL fragment is what I may receive from Ford.

   <owl:Class rdf:about="">
     <rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Ford"/>

That is, ford:Fiesta is a subclass of Ford.

My questions are the following:

(1) Is it reasonable to compose an ontology in this way? That is, to be able to receive fragments to 
add to your local ontology. Of course there are various axioms etc that may also need to be passed 
with respect to knowledge about classes, properties and individuals. One issue would be to know how 
much knowledge must one receive about a class, property or individual to provide the intended 
semantics and so forth. However, that aside, is what I am saying above in principle sensible or even 

(2) I constructed this simple ontology using Protege 3.4.8. Having defined a class Fiesta, I changed 
within Protege the URI from to I then added to the XML file generated by protege the following 

What I noticed was, with the locally defined class "Car" in the OWL-XML file used "rdf:ID", however 
when simulating the addition of an owl fragment for class "Fiesta" the OWL-XML file used "rdf:about".

I am not sure what is happening here with respect to rdf:ID and rdf:about. One obviously requires 
the full URI and the other doesn't. Is it illegal/incorrect to also use the rdf:ID on class 
ford:Fiesta? Any insight is welcomed.

many thanks,

William M. Fitzgerald (BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
Cork Constraint Computation Centre,
Department of Computer Science,
University College Cork,

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