Basic Formal Ontology

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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[edit]

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).


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