Unified Hungarian Ontology

Project type: National Research and Development Programme (NKFP) 2/042/2004 project
Duration: 1 October 2004 - 31 October 2006
Funding: Agency for Research Fund Management and Research Exploitation (KPI)
Consortium members:
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Department of Sociology and Communication (coordinator) [link]
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Department of Telecommunication and Media Informatics [link]
  • MorphoLogic Ltd. Budapest [link]
  • Scriptum Informatics Corporation [link]
  • Applied Logic Laboratory [link]
  • University of Szeged, Department of Informatics, HLT Group [link]
  • Research Institute for Linguistics at HAS, Department of Corpus Linguistics [link]

Brief project summary

In the public services practice of companies valuable knowledge arises on a daily basis, which is worth keeping track of in a company knowledge-base so that on the following occasion any PR co-worker can utilize it. For the operation of a continuously growing knowledge-base, such ontology-based knowledge management skills are required that can ensure the integration and systematization of practical, factual information of the knowledge-base. The immediate objective of the project is the intelligent and computational support of such public service activities in the field of telecommunication. If the system is successfully developed, ontology infrastructure can be made use of in any other domain provided a domain specific knowledge-base and ontology.
In order to achieve immediate objectives, the project had to carry out developments in a way that their results can be used in a wider circle and for other purposes as well. Therefore, the indirect objective of the project was the creation of a unified national ontology framework that contains a freely available top ontology and a domain ontology of public telecommunication services. By this means, the consortium created an open, freely available ontology infrastructure containing an ontology management methodology, ontology handling tools, a practical guide and the necessary cooperative system for the maintenance of the framework.
The term 'ontology' first appeared in the world of data modelling and artificial intelligence, it was only later that it was used in an increasing number of other fields, e.g., cognitive psychology, natural language processing. The current and still growing popularity of the term is due to the international Semantic Web initiative. For some it may seem that this category, which has emerged in the past few decades, is the product of informatics, but ontology has always been a special field of philosophy. Therefore, if we want to thoroughly understand the activities of information technology concerning ontology, it is worth separating philosophical ontologies and the so-called industrial ontologies from each other. No matter what we call them, primarily, the true sense for us in this separation can be a more precise and more unambiguous description of the inner structure and features of applicable ontologies.
Ontology building requires strict methodology, adequate ontology management skills and the establishment of a robust infrastructure. The construction and maintenance of this infrastructure is not a spectacular part of the project, nonetheless it is a task requiring a lot of work and attention. This is also important, because we have to be prepared that, in a short while, the unified ontology framework may have an important function, that is, to loosely connect different domain ontologies. This will require skills in comparing ontologies and matching them loosely. One possible tool for the comparability of ontologies is connection through top categories when formal logic tools, methodologies are required. In case of certain problems, however, comparison is also possible with the help of graph theory solutions when there is no need for upper level categories. Whatever solutions we apply, it can be stated that such tools serve quality control purposes, and the more tools we apply during the project, the more chance we have for eliminating errors.


One main objective of the project was to implement an open, freely available upper level ontology with 1000-2000 top categories. To do so, we did not have to start from scratch. We used the results in this field achieved by the international research community. First of all, we took the databases of the Standard Upper Ontology (SUO) supported by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of the Suggested Upper Merged Ontology (SUMO) as a basis, but supposedly, there were domains where other - freely available - ontologies had to be used as a supplement and where the project had to perform its own ontology building work.
Arguments for the SUO and SUMO top ontologies are that they are freely available and that they were created with the use of efficient resources. The naturalization of the system is made especially desirable by the fact that it seems to be expanding in two different ways. On the one hand, mapping between the elements of SUMO and other standard ontologies (such as the OpenCyc and WordNet) has been accomplished, which ensures mutual accessibility between systems. On the other hand, in the last couple of years, translation of SUO and SUMO into other natural languages (e.g., German, Czech, Chinese) and also their transformation into formal languages (KIF, OWL, LOOM) have started. Also, it is worth mentioning that within the SUO initiative, beside the top ontology, the mid-level ontology (Mid-Level Ontology - MILO) has also been accomplished.
Further preliminaries of formal ontologies include thesauri, classification systems in general, and systems used world-wide, such as the conceptual network of WordNet. These so-called knowledge organizational systems pay attention to the elements, nodes, interconnecting relationships and relations of the semantic web to be built. These existing systems, as well as the thesauri previously created by members of the consortium can help with the lexicon building activity of the project.

Results accomplished

First, ontology literature was studied, and the methodologies of ontology building were evaluated. On this basis, consortium partners clarified the methodological questions concerning the model of the ontology-to-be-built, chose the logic language and the implication system, and also defined the logical layers of the ontology along which systematization of concepts took place. Following this, the development of the upper ontology began.
The consortium made technical preparations as well. The ontology editor program was also selected. The program enables - to a certain degree - the automation of editing and a latter, more flexible application.
In connection to the field of application, the partners studied the possibilities of computer support in public telecommunication services, and examined what knowledge base needs to be developed for the domain. Afterwards, building and transformation of the telecommunications thesaurus were carried out.