The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Differences in ontologies


Andrew U. Frank, Professor for Geoinformation, TU Wien, Austria

(Special edition) 12:00–1:30 p.m. Friday, October 9, 2015 | Phelps Hall 3512 (map)

. Large “standard” ontologies are constructed (e.g. CYC), and even more effort goes today into ontologies for specific application areas (medicine, law, etc.); in principle, the assumption is that these ontologies should be similar, if not the same.  A reader of (literary) texts observes differences in the ontology of the text compared to his own and adjust the interpretation of the text accordingly.  The differences are most pronounced in fairytales, science fiction novels etc. but also noticeable in other texts.  For example, political background diffferences results in different semantics for common words (see Lakoff’s study “Don’t think of a pink elephant”).  GI science claims to integrate data from different domains, thus data with different ontologies.  To what degree is it possible, to extract from a text the difference to a “standard” ontology? Which differences are important for spatial analysis and mapping?

Dr. Andrew U. Frank has been a Professor of Geoinformation at the Technical University of Vienna since 1991. He teaches courses in spatial information systems, representation of geometric data, design of Geographic Information Systems for administration and business, and economic and administrative strategies for the introduction of GIS. He leads an active research group, focusing on problems of spatial cognition, user interfaces for GIS, and the economic and organizational aspects of the collection, management, and use of geographic information. Since 1980, Dr. Frank has published widely on database management systems for GIS, in particular on spatial access methods and spatial query languages. In 1990, he published a book on ‘Cognitive and Linguistic Aspects of Geographic Space’ with David Mark. He organized the Conference on Spatial Theory in 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1997, with proceedings published by Springer-Verlag in the Series Lecture Notes in Computer Science. His most important publications are on qualitative spatial reasoning and, later on, ontologies for GIS.
Prior to his current position, Dr. Frank has been a professor of Land Information Studies in the Department of Surveying Engineering at the University of Maine. He was also co-founder and later head of the Maine branch of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA), a research center funded by the National Science Foundation. He received his Ph.D. (1982) from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland and a Dipl.Ing. degree (1978) from the same institute.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.
Please contact Andrea Ballatore (893-5267, to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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