Barry Smith (academic)

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Barry Smith
Barry Smith.jpg
Born (1952-06-04) June 4, 1952 (age 65)
Bury, England
Citizenship United States
Nationality United Kingdom
Fields Ontology
Institutions University of Manchester
University of Sheffield
International Academy of Philosophy, Liechtenstein
University at Buffalo
Alma mater University of Oxford
University of Manchester (PhD, 1976)
Thesis The Ontology of Reference: Studies in Logic and Phenomenology (1976)
Doctoral advisor Wolfe Mays
Notable students Berit Brogaard
Known for IFOMIS
OBO Foundry
Basic Formal Ontology
Influences Aristotle
Franz Brentano
Edmund Husserl
Adolf Reinach
Roman Ingarden
Michael Dummett
Notable awards Wolfgang Paul Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Barry Smith (born June 4, 1952) is an academic working in the fields of ontology and biomedical informatics. Smith is the author of more than 500 scientific publications,[1] including 15 authored or edited books.

Education and career[edit]

From 1970 to 1973 Smith studied Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He obtained his PhD from the University of Manchester in 1976 for a dissertation on ontology and reference in Husserl and Frege.[2] The dissertation was supervised by Wolfe Mays.

Among the cohort of graduate students working under Mays' direction were Kevin Mulligan (Geneva/Lugano), and Peter Simons (Trinity College, Dublin), both of whom shared with Smith an interest in the contributions of certain turn-of-the-century Continental philosophers and logicians to central issues of analytic philosophy.[citation needed] In 1979 Mulligan, Simons and Smith together founded the Seminar for Austro-German Philosophy,[3] which organized workshops and conferences centered around the work of early Central European philosophers from Bolzano to Tarksi and their impact on contemporary philosophy.

From 1976 to 1994 Smith held appointments in Sheffield (1976–1979), Manchester (1979–1989) and Liechtenstein (1989–1994). In 1994 he moved to the University at Buffalo (New York, USA),[4] where he is currently Julian Park Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Computer Science and Engineering, and Neurology. From 2002 to 2006 Smith served as founding Director of the Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science (IFOMIS) in Leipzig, Germany.[citation needed] The Institute moved to Saarbrücken in 2004.

In 2005 Smith founded the National Center for Ontological Research (NCOR), under the auspices of which he initiated in 2006 the Ontology for the Intelligence Community, now STIDS annual conference series. Smith was also responsible for initiating the International Conference on Biomedical Ontology.[citation needed]

Smith served as editor of The Monist: An International Quarterly Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry from 1992 to 2016.

Research activities[edit]

From the beginning of his career he has worked in the field of ontology, initially on the history of ontology as a sub-discipline of philosophy in the tradition of Brentano, Husserl,, Ingarden and Reinach,. In the 1990s he worked closely with David Mark, one of the founders of Geographic information science (GIS) on initiatives in the field of geospatial ontology. Since 2000 his research has been centered on the application of ontology in biomedical informatics, where he has worked on a variety of projects relating to biomedical terminologies and electronic health records.[citation needed]

Smith is leader of the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) top level ontology project. He is a Coordinating Editor of the OBO Foundry and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Gene Ontology Consortium, and of the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) Working Group.[citation needed]

More recently he has worked on a variety of ontology-related initiatives in the military and intelligence field and also in the ontology of engineering. In 2008-2010 he served as technical lead on a project sponsored by the US Army Net-Centric Data Strategy Center of Excellence (ANCDS CoE) to create the Universal Core Semantic Layer (UCore-SL). Since 2010 he was worked on a series of initiatives sponsored by the US Army Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD) to create a framework for semantic enhancement of intelligence data in the Cloud. Since 2014 he is collaborator on initiatives of the US Air Force Research Laboratory on planning, mission assurance, and lifecycle management. In this connection he is working on a project to create a Joint Doctrine Ontology.


The Theory and Practice of Ontology (2016) is a Festschrift dedicated to Smith containing studies of his work by colleagues and students.[5]




  1. ^
  2. ^ Smith, Barry (1976). The Ontology of Reference: Studies in Logic and Phenomenology (PhD thesis). University of Manchester. 
  3. ^ Axel Bühler, "Drei Briten in Kakanien", interview by in Information Philosophie, 3 (1987), 22–33.
  4. ^ Barry Smith – CV
  5. ^ Leo Zaibert, ed. (2016). The Theory and Practive of Ontology. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 1. ISBN 9781137552778. 

External links[edit]