Inferring Ontological Categories of OWL Classes Using Foundational Rules

Pedro Paulo F. Barcelos, Tiago Prince Sales, Elena Romanenko, João Paulo A. Almeida, Gal Engelberg, Dan Klein, Giancarlo Guizzardi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Several efforts that leverage the tools of formal ontology (such as OntoClean, OntoUML, and UFO) have demonstrated the fruitfulness of considering key metaproperties of classes in ontology engineering. These metaproperties include sortality, rigidity, and external dependence, and give rise to many fine-grained ontological categories for classes, including, among others, kinds, phases, roles, mixins, etc. Despite that, it is still common practice to apply representation schemes and approaches - such as OWL - that do not benefit from identifying these ontological categories, and simplistically treat all classes in the same manner. In this paper, we propose an approach to support the automated classification of classes into the ontological categories underlying the (g)UFO foundational ontology. We propose a set of inference rules derived from (g)UFO's axiomatization that, given an initial classification of the classes in an OWL ontology, can support the inference of the classification for the remaining classes in the ontology. We formalize these rules, implement them in a computational tool and assess them against a catalog of ontologies designed by a variety of users for a number of domains.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFormal Ontology in Information Systems - Proceedings of the 13th International Conference, FOIS 2023
EditorsTorsten Hahmann, Antony Galton, Maria M. Hedblom, Nathalie Aussenac-Gilles
PublisherIOS Press BV
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781643684680
StatePublished - 21 Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes
Event13th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems, FOIS 2023 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 18 Sep 202320 Sep 2023

Publication series

NameFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications
ISSN (Print)0922-6389
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8314


Conference13th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems, FOIS 2023
CityVirtual, Online

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors.


  • Applications and Methods
  • Foundational Ontologies
  • gUFO
  • Ontology Grounding
  • Ontology Tools
  • OWL
  • UFO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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