Agricultural Ontology Service
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The Agricultural Ontology Service (AOS) shall serve as a reference initiative that structures and standardises agricultural terminology in multiple languages for use of any number of systems in the agricultural domain and provide several services. The purpose of the AOS is to achieve more interoperability between agricultural systems. Applying standards promoted through the AOS shall account for better indexing and retrieval of agricultural bibliographic resources. The goals of the Agricultural Ontology Service are realized by assisting community partners in building ontologies. An ontology (computer science) is a system that contains concepts, the definitions of those concepts, and the specification of relationships among those concepts. For those coming from the traditional library world, a thesaurus can be interpreted as a simple ontology, i.e. a conceptual hierarchy built by terms that are interlinked with few very generic relationships. An ontology goes beyond and defines and enables the creation of more formal, more specific and more powerful relationships as well as constraints and rules. An ontology captures and structures the knowledge in a domain, and by doing so captures the meaning of concepts that are specific to that domain. This meaning will then be available to end-users through the use of tools (e.g. indexing or search and retrieval applications) that apply the ontologies.
Agriculture Ontology Service : Motivation
In the agricultural sector there exist already many well-established and authoritative controlled vocabularies, such as FAO's AGROVOC Thesaurus, the CAB Thesaurus, and the National Agricultural Library Thesaurus in the United States. However, for semantic tools to be entirely effective on the Internet, there is a need to re-assess the traditional "thesaurus" approach and move towards a more modern technique that better suits the Web environment, such as the development of "ontologies". Ontology in information management is a concept that has been emerging from the various Semantic Web initiatives. Roughly speaking, in the context of AOS, an ontology can be defined as a semantic knowledge organization system that contains concepts and their terms, the definitions of those concepts and terms, and the specification of relationships amongst them.
Ontological relationships help to eliminate the need to do multiple searches. For example, users might be interested in finding resources about the types of infestations of tomatoes. Instead of having to do multiple searches for each type of infestation (e.g. "tomatoes AND tomato mosaic tobamovirus", "tomatoes AND fungal wilt"), they can request the use of a formally defined ontological relationship "infecting agent" with the topic "tomatoes". If each tomato infestation resource in their system has been indexed using this relationship, by using it, they save themselves the work of having to do multiple searches, and instead retrieve just what they need through a single request.
The AOS Concept Server (AOS/CS)
The AOS Concept Server is the first step towards an "Ontology Service". The Concept Server shall function as a tool to help structure and standardise agricultural terminology to be used in a wide range of systems in the agricultural domain. It is envisioned to establish as a first stop access point for structured, standardized agricultural terminology. The Concept Server will provide a core ontology in the domain of agriculture that people can take as a starting point for building more detailed domain specific ontologies. The project now foresees an online system that can be accessed for modelling, serving and managing agricultural terminology. Selected maintainers will have access to the system for management, maintenance and modelling. Public users will be able to browse, download parts or the whole ontology in various formats and consult other services, such as search services, translation services etc.
In order to create a Concept Server (CS) FAO's multilingual thesaurus AGROVOC serves as the starting point. It is necessary to restructure it from the current term-based system to a concept-based system. Current flaws in the conceptual model need to be assessed and definitions and constraints added. Moreover, the traditional thesaurus relationships are very generic and need to be refined. We have identified a number of basic ontological relationships that will be applied in the CS.
AOS and the Semantic Web
With respect to the Semantic Web initiative, the AOS would strive to:
- increase the efficiency and consistency with which multilingual agricultural resources are described and associated together;
- increase functionality and relevance in accessing these resources; and
- provide a framework for sharing common descriptions, definitions and relations within the agricultural community.
- Agricultural Information Management Standards Website
- Agricultural Metadata Element Set
- Agricultural Information and Knowledge Management Papers
- RSS feed of news and events
- OWL Web Ontology Language Overview
- OWL Web Ontology Language Guide
- OWL Web Ontology Language Reference