Tutorial: Knowledge Engineering of Taxonomies, Thesauri, and Ontologies

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Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - 09:00 to 12:30

Organized by: Heather Hedden, Data and Knowledge Engineer, Semantic Web Company. 

Abstract:  This tutorial teaches the fundamentals and best practices for creating quality taxonomies, thesauri, and ontologies, whether for the enterprise or for specific knowledge bases in any industry. Emphasis will be on serving users and use cases, rather than on theory. Topics to be covered include: different kinds of knowledge organization systems (taxonomies, thesauri, ontologies, etc.) their differences and their benefits and suitability for different purposes, Semantic Web standards and other standards, thesaurus/taxonomy concept creation, thesaurus/taxonomy relationship creation, ontology modeling basics, linking knowledge organization systems, and enriching a taxonomy or thesaurus to become an ontology and a knowledge graph.

Theme and goals: Semantic technologies around linked data deal with connecting data and enabling retrieval of relevant data. This requires knowledge organization systems, especially taxonomies, thesauri, and ontologies, where concepts/entities are tagged to content or data and linked to each other. While published knowledge organization systems exist for reuse, it is best to have a knowledge organization system that is custom-created to serve the needs of its users and reflect a specific set of data and content. The goal of this tutorial is to teach participants how to design and build such knowledge organization systems. 

Why the event is important: Semantic web standards/guidelines, such as SKOS, RDF, OWL, etc. provide guidance on how to structure knowledge so that it is machine-readable and interoperable, but these standards do not specify how to make knowledge organization systems functional for its goals of information retrieval and supporting best practices for design and user experience. This is a difference between theory and practice.

Structure: Lecture with periodic discussion, open to Q&A any time. Occasional exercises will ask participants to write down answers and then share them with the class, and the instructor will write them on a whiteboard or flip chart, and then comment and invite discussion. These may include identifying the most suitable knowledge organization system type, suggesting alternative labels, suggesting broader and narrower concepts, options in semantic model design. There will also be one interactive exercise on faceted taxonomies involving breaking out into multiple small groups to design a set of facets.

Audience: Those in industry who need to develop or oversee the development for enhancement of knowledge organization systems or knowledge models. This includes:

  • Ontologists or knowledge engineers who are not experienced in creating taxonomies
  • Those who have a basic understanding of taxonomies or ontologies, but would like to know more
  • Managers of data, information, content, or knowledge 

Learning Outcomes:
Understand the diversity of knowledge organization systems and which are better suited for which situations
What resources to use in developing a taxonomy/thesaurus
How to develop concepts and labels that best serve the users
How to construct taxonomy/thesaurus relationships according to standards and best practices
How to extend a taxonomy into an ontology and how to design an ontology that leverages an existing taxonomy

Prerequisite knowledge: Basic understanding of what taxonomies/thesauri and ontologies are and what they are used for, but prior experience creating them is not required. Although this information will be reviewed, it will be quick, and no prior knowledge will make it challenging.

Organizer’s background: Heather Hedden is a Data and Knowledge Engineer in the professional services team of Semantic Web Company. Previously she worked as a taxonomy consultant (Hedden Information Management) and as a taxonomist in various organizations. Through Hedden Information Management she continues to teach an online course in taxonomy creation, and she has given numerous conference and corporate taxonomy workshops. Heather is author of the book The Accidental Taxonomist. More information is at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hedden/ and http://www.hedden-information.com/about/.
Past presentations and tutorials given are listed at: http://www.hedden-information.com/presentations/ 

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