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4.2.2. Change Representation
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To resolve changes, they have to be identi ed and represented in a suitable format which means that the change representation needs to be de ned for a given ontology model. Changes can be represented on various levels of granularity, for example as elementary or complex changes. The set of ontology change operations depends heavily on the underlying ontology model. Most existing work on ontology evolution builds on frame-like or object models, centred around classes, properties, etc. Stojanovic (2004) derives a set of ontology changes for the KAON ontology model. The author speci es ne-grained changes that can be performed in the course of the ontology evolution. They are called elementary changes, since they cannot be decomposed into simpler changes. An elementary change is either an add or remove transformation, applied to an entity in the ontology model. The author also mentions that this level of change representation is not always appropriate and therefore introduces the notion of composite changes: a composite change is an ontology change that modi es (creates, removes or changes) one and only one level of neighborhood of entities in the ontology, where the neighborhood is de ned via structural links between entities. Examples for such composite changes would be: Pull concept up, Copy Concept, Split Concept, etc. Further, the author introduces complex changes: a
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ONTOLOGY EVOLUTION: STATE-OF-THE-ART
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complex change is an ontology change that can be decomposed into any combination of at least two elementary or composite ontology changes. As a result, the author places the identi ed types of changes into a taxonomy of changes. Klein and Noy (2003) also state that information about changes can be represented in many different ways. They describe different representations and propose a framework that integrates them. They show how different representations in the framework are related by describing some techniques and heuristics that supplement information in one representation with information from other representations and present an ontology of change operations, which is the kernel of the framework. Klein (2004) describes a set of changes for the OWL ontology language, based on an OWL meta-model. Unlike the previously mentioned set of KAON ontology changes, the author considers also Modify operations in addition to Delete and Add operations. Further, the taxonomy contains Set and Unset operations for properties (e.g., to set transitivity). The author introduces an extensive terminology of change operations along two dimensions: atomic versus composite and simple versus rich. Atomic operations are operations that cannot be subdivided into smaller operations, whereas composite operations provide a mechanism for grouping operations that constitute a logical entity. Simple changes can be detected by analyzing the structure of the ontology only, whereas rich changes incorporate information about the implication of the operation on the logical model of the ontology, for their identi cation one thus needs to query the logical theory of the ontology. The author also proposes a method for nding complex ontology changes. It is based on a set of rules and heuristics to generate a complex change from a set of basic changes. Both Stojanovic (2004) and Klein (2004) present an ontology for ontology changes for their respective ontology language and identi ed change operations. Another form of change representation for OWL is de ned by Haase and Stojanovic (2005), who follow an ontology model in uenced by Description Logics, which treats an ontology as a knowledge base consisting of a set of axioms. Accordingly, they allow the atomic change operations of adding and removing axioms. Obviously, representing changes at the level of axioms is very ne grained. However, based on this minimal set of atomic change operations, it is possible to de ne more complex, higher-level descriptions of ontology changes. Composite ontology change operations can be expressed as a sequence of atomic ontology change operations. The semantics of the sequence is the chaining of the corresponding functions. Models for change representations for other ontology languages exist, too: a formal method for tracking changes in the RDF repository is proposed in Ognyanov and Kiryakov (2002). The RDF statements are pieces of knowledge they operate on. The authors argue that during ontology evolution, the RDF statements can be only deleted or added,
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