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IHMC CmapTools - empowers users to construct, navigate, share and criticize knowledge models represented as concept maps

Description Logics

  • Description logics (DL) are a family of knowledge representation languages which can be used to represent the terminological knowledge of an application domain in a structured and formally well-understood way
  • Wikipedia article on description logics
  • Logic: a well formalized part of agent knowledge and reasoning.
  • Reasoning: logical inference, "processing knowledge" (implicit knowledge has to be made explicit)
  • Expressive Power of representation language - able to represent the problem
  • Correctness of entailment procedure - no false conclusions are drawn
  • Completeness of entailment procedure - all correct conclusions are drawn
  • Decidability of entailment problem - there exists a (terminating) algorithm to compute entailment
  • Complexity - resources needed for computing the solution
  • Logics differ in terms of their representation power and computational complexity of inference. The more restricted the representational power, the faster the inference in general.
  • First-order logic: we can now talk about objects and relations between them, and we can quantify over objects. Good for representing most interesting domains, but inference is not only expensive, but may not terminate.
  • DL vs OWL (from Description Logic @ Wikipedia):
    • A concept in DL jargon is referred to as a class in OWL
    • A role in DL jargon is a property in OWL.
  • DL vs ER (from
    • An ER conceptual schema can be expressed in a suitable description logic theory.
    • The models of the DL theory correspond with legal database states of the ER schemas.
    • Mapping ER schema in DL theory:
      • Reasoning services such as satisfiability of a schema or logical implication can be performed by the corresponding DL theory.
      • A description logic allows for a greater expressivity than the original ER framework, in terms of full disjunction and negation, and entity definitions by means of both necessary and sufficient conditions.

Knowledge bases


  • Distinctions:
    • Primitive vs. Defined.
    • Defnitional vs. Incidental.
    • Concept vs. Individual.
    • Concept vs. Role.
  • Steps to design:
    • Enumerate Objects. As a bare list of elements of the KB; they will became individuals, concepts, or role.
    • Distinguish Concepts from Roles. Make a first decision about what object must be considered role; remember that some could have a "natural" concept associated. The remaining objects will be concepts (or maybe individuals). Also, try to distinguish roles from attributes.
    • Develop Concept Taxonomy. Try to decide a classifcation of all the concepts, imagining their extensions. This taxonomy will be used as a first reference, and could be revised when definition will be given. It will be used also to check if definition meet our expectations (sometime, interesting, unforeseen (re)classifications are found).
    • Devise partitions. Try to make explicit all the disjointness and covering constraints among classes, and reclassify the concepts.
    • Individuals. Try to list as many as possible generally useful individuals. Some could have been already listed in step 1. Try to describe them (classify).
    • Properties and Parts. Begin to define the internal structure of concepts (this process will continue in the next steps). For each concept list:
      • intrinsic properties, that are part of the very nature of the concept;
      • extrinsic properties, that are contingent or external properties of the object; they can sometime change during the time;
      • parts, in the case of structured or collective objects. They can be physical (e.g., "the components of a car", "the casks of a winery", "the students of a class", "the members of a group", "the grape of a wine") or abstract (e.g., "the courses of a meal", "the lessons of a course", "the topics of a lesson").
      • In some cases some relationships between individuals of classes can be considered too accidental to be listed above (e.g., "the employees of a winery"; but the matter could change if we consider Winery as a subconcept of Firm).
      • In general, the above distinctions depend on the level of detail adopted.
      • Some of the listed roles will be later considered defnitional, and some incidental.
      • After this and the next steps check/revision of the taxonomy could be necessary.
    • Cardinality Restrictions. For the relevant roles for each concept.
    • Value Restriction. As above. Also, chose the right restriction.
    • Propagate Value Restrictions. If some value restrictions stated in the previous step does not correspond to already existing concepts, they must be defined.
    • Inter-role Relationship. Even if hardly definable in DL, they can be useful during the populating and debugging phases.
    • Definitional and Incidental. It is important distinguish between definitional and incidental properties, w.r.t. to the particular application.
    • Primitive and Defined. As above.


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