Conceptual Models as Ontological Contracts
In the years to come, we will experience an increasing demand for building Reference Conceptual Models in critical domains in reality, as well as employing them to address classes of problems, for which sophisticated conceptual distinctions are demanded. One of these key problems is Semantic Interoperability. Effective semantic interoperability requires an alignment between worldviews or, to put it more accurately, it requires the precise understanding of the relation between the (inevitable) ontological commitments assumed by different representations and the systems based on them (including sociotechnical systems). In this talk, I argue that, in this scenario, Reference Conceptual Models should be seen as Ontological Contracts, i.e., as precise descriptions that explicitly represent the Ontological Commitments of a collective of stakeholders sharing a certain worldview. I then elaborate on a number of theoretical, methodological and computational tools required for building these meaning contracts. Firstly, I discuss the importance of Formal Ontology in the philosophical sense and, in particular, I elaborate on the role of foundational axiomatic theories and principles in the design of conceptual modeling languages and methodologies. Secondly, I discuss the role played by four types of complexity management tools that are derived from these foundational theories, namely: (a) Ontological Design Patterns (ODPs), as methodological mechanisms for encoding these ontological theories; (b) Ontology Pattern Languages (OPLs), as systems of representation that take ODPs as higher-granularity modeling primitives; (c) Pattern-Based Graph Operations that can suitably support Modularization, Model Abstraction, and Model Recoding in Large-Scale Conceptual Models; (d) Ontological Anti-Patterns (OAPs), as structures that can be used to systematically identify possible deviations between the set of valid state of affairs admitted by a model (the actual ontological commitment) and the set of state of affairs actually intended by the stakeholders (the intended ontological commitment); Finally, I illustrate the role played by a particular type of computer-based visual simulation approach in the validation of these reference models as well as for anti-pattern elicitation and rectification.
About the speaker
Giancarlo Guizzardi has a PhD (with the highest distinction) from the University of Twente, The Netherlands. He is a member of the Faculty of Computer Science at the Free University of Bolzano-Bozen, Italy, where he leads the Conceptual and Cognitive Modeling Research Group (CORE). He has been active for more than two decades in the areas of Ontologies, Conceptual Modeling and Enterprise Semantics, authoring more than 230 peer-reviewed publications, which received more than a dozen international awards. He was a keynote speaker to more than two-dozen international events, is currently an associate editor for the Applied Ontology journal, a member of international journal editorial boards and of the Advisory Board of the International Association for Ontology and its Applications (IAOA).