Basic Formal Ontology
The Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) is a formal ontological framework developed by Barry Smith and his associates that consists in a series of sub-ontologies at different levels of granularity. The ontologies are divided into two varieties: continuant (or snapshot) ontologies, comprehending continuant entities such as three-dimensional enduring objects, and occurrent ontologies, comprehending processes conceived as extended through (or as spanning) time. BFO thus incorporates both three-dimensionalist and four-dimensionalist perspectives on reality within a single framework. Interrelations are defined between the two types of ontologies in a way which gives BFO the facility to deal with both static/spatial and dynamic/temporal features of reality. Each continuant ontology is an inventory of all entities existing at a time. Each occurrent ontology is an inventory (processory) of all the processes unfolding through a given interval of time. Both types of ontology serve as basis for a series of sub-ontologies, each of which can be conceived as a window on a certain portion of reality at a given level of granularity.
Applications of BFO
BFO has been adopted as a foundational ontology by many projects, principally in the areas of biomedical ontology and security and defense (intelligence) ontology. An example application of BFO can be seen in the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI).
- Arp, R., Smith, B., and Spear, A. D. Building Ontologies with Basic Formal Ontology, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, August 2015, xxiv + 220pp.
- Grenon, P. and Smith, B. (2004) “SNAP and SPAN: Towards Dynamic Spatial Ontology”, Spatial Cognition and Computation, 4:1, 69-103.
- Smith, B. and Grenon, P. (2004) “The Cornucopia of Formal-Ontological Relations”, Dialectica, 58:3, 279-296.
- Basic Formal Ontology at IFOMIS
- Katherine Munn, Barry Smith (Eds.): Applied Ontology: An Introduction, Ontos Verlag.
- Ludger Jansen: "Tendencies and other Realizables in Medical Information Sciences"
- Fabian Neuhaus, Pierre Grenon, Barry Smith: "A Formal Theory of Substances, Qualities, and Universals"
- Luc Schneider: "Revisiting the Ontological Square"
- Lars Vogt: "Spatio-structural granularity of biological material entities"
- Barry Smith, Werner Ceusters, Bert Klagges, Jacob Köhler, Anand Kumar, Jane Lomax, Chris Mungall, Fabian Neuhaus, Alan Rector and Cornelius Rosse: "Relations in Biomedical Ontologies", Genome Biology (2005), 6 (5), R46
- Thomas Bittner, Maureen Donnelly and Barry Smith: "A Spatio-Temporal Ontology for Geographic Information Integration", International Journal for Geographical Information Science, 23 (6), 2009, 765-798
- Realism in Biology
- Smith, B. and Ceusters, W. (2010) “Ontological Realism as a Methodology for Coordinated Evolution of Scientific Ontologies[permanent dead link]”, Applied Ontology, 5 (2010), 139–188.