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Building Ontologies With Basic Formal Ontology$
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Robert Arp, Barry Smith, and Andrew D. Spear

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262527811

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262527811.001.0001

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Principles of Best Practice II: Terms, Definitions, and Classification

Principles of Best Practice II: Terms, Definitions, and Classification

(p.59) 4 Principles of Best Practice II: Terms, Definitions, and Classification
Building Ontologies With Basic Formal Ontology

Robert Arp

Barry Smith

Andrew D. Spear

The MIT Press

We present 25 principles of best practice in ontology design grouped into three major headings: term selection and formatting; definitions; and taxonomy organization. At the core of these principles is the Aristotelian idea that a definition of a term A should have the form: An A is a B which Cs, where A is a term in an ontology, B is the parent term of A in the is_a hierarchy of the ontology, and C is the differentia, which specifies what it is about the As which makes them different from all the other Bs. The definition of each term is determined both by its location in the relevant taxonomy and by the process of formulating definitions itself, which serves as a check on this taxonomy’s correctness. We cover principles of logic that apply to all definitions and taxonomies, with special attention to specific recommendations for the design of ontologies.

Keywords:   ontology design, term, definition, Aristotelian definition, taxonomy, is_a hierarchy

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