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A survey on units ontologies: architecture, comparison and reuse

Xiaoming Zhang (School of Information Science and Engineering, Hebei University of Science and Technology, Shijiazhuang, China)
Kai Li (School of Information Science and Engineering, Hebei University of Science and Technology, Shijiazhuang, China)
Chongchong Zhao (School of Computer and Communication Engineering, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Beijing, China)
Dongyu Pan (School of Information Science and Engineering, Hebei University of Science and Technology, Shijiazhuang, China)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 4 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

With the increasing spread of ontologies in various domains, units have gradually become an essential part of ontologies and units ontologies have been developed to offer a better expression ability for the practical usage. From the perspectives of architecture, comparison and reuse, the purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive survey on four mainstream units ontologies: quantity-unit-dimension-type, quantities, units, dimensions and values, ontology of units of measure and units ontology (UO) of the open biomedical ontologies, in order to address well the state of the art and the reuse strategies of the UO.

Design/methodology/approach

An architecture of units ontologies is presented, in which the relations between key factors (i.e. units of measure, quantity and dimension) are discussed. The criteria for comparing units ontologies are developed from the perspectives of organizational structure, pattern design and application scenario. Then, the authors compare four typical units ontologies based on the proposed comparison criteria. Furthermore, how to reuse these units ontologies is discussed in materials science domain by utilizing two reuse strategies of partial reference and complete reference.

Findings

Units ontologies have attracted high attention in the scientific domain. Based on the comparison of four popular units ontologies, this paper finds that different units ontologies have different design features from the perspectives of basis structure, units conversion and axioms design; a UO is better to be applied to the application areas that satisfy its design features; and many challenges remain to be done in the future research of the UO.

Originality/value

This paper makes an extensive review on units ontologies, by defining the comparison criteria and discussing the reuse strategies in the materials domain. Based on this investigation, guidelines are summarized for the selection and reuse of units ontologies.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51271033, 71271076), Natural Science Foundation of Hebei Province (No. F2013208107), Hebei Science and Technology Support Program (No. 16210312D), and Natural Science Foundation of Hebei Education Department (No. QN2015207).

Citation

Zhang, X., Li, K., Zhao, C. and Pan, D. (2017), "A survey on units ontologies: architecture, comparison and reuse", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 51 No. 2, pp. 193-213. https://doi.org/10.1108/PROG-08-2015-0056

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited