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The Center for Bright Beams, A National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center


What is an Ontology?

As a philosophical discipline, ontology is the branch of metaphysics that deals with “the nature and relations of being.” Notably, one of the questions in the study of ontology is whether certain things exist and how to possibly sort them.

For our concerns, it suffices to say that an ontology is a machine-readable vocabulary that formalizes the concepts in a particular discipline and the relationships between said concepts. Specifically, ontologies are vocabularies for the Semantic Web as standardized by the World Wide Web Consortium. The goal of the standard is to allow compatibility between databases.