Background and foreground knowledge in dynamic ontology construction

Christopher Brewster, Fabio Ciravegna, Yorick Wilks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


Ontologies have become a key component in the Semantic Web and Knowledge management. One accepted goal is to construct ontologies from a domain specific set of texts. An ontology reflects the background knowledge used in writing and reading a text. However, a text is an act of knowledge maintenance, in that it re-enforces the background assumptions, alters links and associations in the ontology, and adds new concepts. This means that background knowledge is rarely expressed in a machine interpretable manner. When it is, it is usually in the conceptual boundaries of the domain, e.g. in textbooks or when ideas are borrowed into other domains. We argue that a partial solution to this lies in searching external resources such as specialized glossaries and the internet. We show that a random selection of concept pairs from the Gene Ontology do not occur in a relevant corpus of texts from the journal Nature. In contrast, a significant proportion can be found on the internet. Thus, we conclude that sources external to the domain corpus are necessary for the automatic construction of ontologies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Semantic Web Workshop
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventSemantic Web Workshop - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 1 Aug 2003 → …


ConferenceSemantic Web Workshop
Abbreviated titleSIGIR2003
Period1/08/03 → …


  • knowledge capture
  • ontology learning
  • Semantic Web


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