Monday, March 17, 2008

What is a SUO?

A SUO is something that was talked about quite a bit a year or two ago but seems to be fading a bit of late. SUO stands for "Shared Upper Level Ontology" and represents a baseline of sorts for complex semantic mapping activities. The problem I noticed immediately with the concept was two-fold:

1 - High level taxonomies are extremely useful in situations where an organization (or shared community) has the ability to manage it strictly. For example, there is essentially one shared interpretation of the Animal "Kingdom" originally proposed by Linneaus in the 1700s. However once you move from universal consensus to competing interpretations things start to get complicated. How many official variations of English dialects could be recognized as SUOs and how might they relate to an "Oxford" version?

2 - It is unrealistic to expect that a fairly rich understanding of the potential relationships can be captured within a SUO - which means then it becomes less of a true Ontology and more of a taxonomy. Folks working on on SUOs some years back tried to take this into account:

EEE SUO working group

Thusfar the largest SUO project is the Suggested Upper Merged Ontology (SUMO) initiative. I'm not too sure how useful this is though as the standard for exchanging the Ontology data is rather narrowly focused (KIF Knowledge Interchange Format). For us to be able to include semantic integration into larger enterprise integration projects a more standard XML-based approach is required.

Copyright 2008, Semantech Inc.

1 comment:

Adam said...

You mention the need for XML output. The Sigma system includes a lot of code to read and generate different XML formats. SUMO can be easily converted to an XML syntax with Sigma. We've employed SUMO extensively for integrating legacy databases.