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RE: [ontac-forum] More discussion and thoughts on the openness and value

To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Warzel, Denise (NIH/NCI)" <warzeld@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2005 19:12:37 -0400
Message-id: <4CCA53563257AC478E6F764AC6CD0816146D94E6@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi Gary.
The 11179 standard is in the process of being vetted re:specific recommendations for the elaboration of taxonomic structures, specifically rings, hierarchies, faceted, network and flat through the description of a relationship class - Frank Olken has been workign on the proposal...some of which has been voted on and approved and will come out in the next edition.
With regard to the creation of silos, if the ontology is within the registry (XMDR/11179 or Edition 3) which is what has been proposed, then the implementation insures that there are no silos, at least within a domain specific registry like the NCI Cancer Data standards Registry (caDSR), at least everything is linked to a common ontology with the registry.  The notion of a higher level ontology is a good one...then we can go across domains...no argument there.
From our persepective, the people designing software applications 11179 regsitry users (consumers of the ontology) aren't necessarily ontology experts (is that stating the obvious?) so if you let them create 11179 data elements, objects, etc on their own, they won't necessarily come up with a sensible language that everyone, even within a domain, would agree upon nor sensible defintions, etc...(ontology bottoms up..?)
so - I think we forcefully agree with you - so we decided to enforce the use of the structured vocabularies, preference given in our registry to the NCI cancer ontololgy for all content in the caDSR...there still is the possibility that some of the other medical terminiologies we currently let users access to create content could overlap with NCI Taxonomy..its not a perfect world...(yet :-) 
I had offered that we could use the NCI registry to 'register' the ontology that you guys build ...since it already has the ability to load up concepts and create other registry items using them, tools to test getting things out via API or XML downloads, tools to use the data elements on forms, etc.  IT might offer a really quick way to experiment  ...
We would need to enhance the relationship class along the lines of the coming 11179 recommentations - but we would want to do that eventually anyway...
Does that make sense?
offer still stands :-)
Denise Warzel

From: Gary Berg-Cross [mailto:gary.berg-cross@xxxxxxxx]
Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2005 10:57 AM
To: ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [ontac-forum] More discussion and thoughts on the openness and value of 11179

Denise B and Denise W


Yes, I understand that the ISO 11179 is sufficiently “open” (or as you (DB) said, vague) regarding what it refers to as classification to allow you to apply it to different kinds of structures. 


As you (DB) said “  Our combined set of master data stores begins to resemble our ontology when they are applied.  “


While the openness has some good aspects it can mean that people will come up with different data objects within which the data elements exist and different data classifications to organize the data objects.  The approach, which also include “subject areas”  seems to me like a weak ontology and thus creation of a good, general ontology is needed. This is what has been discussed in the context of the DRM which builds on 11179 with the object, classification, subject area hierarchy.   


So I agree with your statement that,   “We believe that the ISO 11179 standard

could benefit from further elaboration of taxonomic structures, specifically

rings, hierarchies, faceted, network and flat.”


I think that many might also want to agree with your statement

“If ISO 11179 were further developed, it would suffice for describing and managing ontologies. “


This is the type of bottom up approach I mentioned to Denis W that I was concerned with.   It’s not that it couldn’t be done, it’s just that I think it hides some of the harder issues we will face in building a good ontology.  So it may be an ingredient to our approach and something we can leverage, but we should not expect it to be an easy linear process.  One might worry that we are building silos of objects, classes and subject areas that we will later have to break down and organize thru ontological analysis.




Gary Berg-Cross


BMMP Data Strategy

Crystal City, VA

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