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The Laboratory for Applied Ontology (LOA) performs basic and applied research on the ontological foundations of conceptual modeling, exploring the role of ontologies and ontology management in different fields, such as: knowledge representation, knowledge engineering, database design, information retrieval, natural language processing, and the semantic web. The group is characterized by a strong interdisciplinary approach that combines Computer Science, Philosophy and Linguistics, and relies on logic as a unifying paradigm. On the application side, special emphasis is given to the use of ontologies for e-government, enterprise modeling and integration, natural language processing, and the Semantic Web.

FOIS 2016

9th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems

July 6-9, 2016 - Annecy, France

The FOIS conference is designed to provide a meeting point for researchers from all disciplines with an interest in formal ontology. The conference encourages submission of high quality articles on both theoretical issues and concrete applications at the intersection of philosophical ontology, linguistics, logic, cognitive science, and computer science, as well as in the applications of ontological analysis to conceptual modeling, knowledge engineering, knowledge management, information-systems development, library and information science, scientific research, and semantic technologies in general.

FOIS is the flagship conference of the International Association for Ontology and its Applications (IAOA), which is a non-profit organization that promotes interdisciplinary research and international collaboration in formal ontology.

FOIS 2018

10th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems

FOIS 2018, will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, 17-21 September 2018, following the 4th Interdisciplinary School on Applied Ontology, ISAO 2018 that will take place between 10-14 September 2018.

2nd Workshop on Ontology and Engineering in Tandem

Half-day on using ontology to help engineering

The purpose is to discuss how computational ontologies can support knowledge representation and data modelling tasks in domains such as manufacturing, design, civil engineering and architecture. Both methodological and implementation aspects concerning the development and use of ontologies will be covered in the discussion.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 9:30-13:00


Room: Sala Grande Palazzina C
ISTC-CNR Laboratory for Applied Ontology
via alla Cascata 56/C
Povo, Trento
How to reach us: see the map on the website

Attendance is for free. No registration is required. However, if you intend to participate, please send an email to either stefano.borgo [at] or sanfilippo [at]


9:45 - 10:30
Pieter Pauwels
, Dept. of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium (personal web page).

Slides of the talk available here
Product and 3D geometry ontologies at action in construction industry: from manufacturer to demolition.
Abstract: The past few years have shown a strong technological shift in the domain of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). The World Wide Web is giving a huge push in this respect, including emerging topics such as Linked Data, Internet of Things, Web of Data, Big Data, and so forth. Whereas many industry stakeholders are focusing heavily on the development of web applications, often using the latest graph databases and visualization techniques, a strong surge is also made in standardization bodies, including Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), BuildingSMART, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), aiming to set out a number of data standards that can be consumed by the relevant industry stakeholders. In this presentation, we will particularly look at the place where both (can) come together.

We aim at the particular case of product data and 3D geometry data in the building industry sector. The W3C Linked Building Data (LBD) Community Group is setting forward a number of ontologies to capture this kind of data, currently using the Web Ontology Language (OWL) and the Resource Description Framework (RDF). The group relies on existing work in that area, primarily available in the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) ontology put up by buildingSMART, but also considering the data sets and formats actively used in the industry. Diverse ontologies are presented to capture data, both for the case of product data and 3D geometry. The currently most recommended version will be presented.

Finally, this presentation will also give an indication of how these ontologies can be put to action in the field. For this purpose, a connection needs to be made with the currently prevailing implementation techniques in the construction industry. Although the majority of companies relies on ‘ontology-low’ software, such as spreadsheets and PDFs, a considerable number of innovative companies build high-quality web applications that allow to re-use building data throughout the building life-cycle in a strongly service-oriented architecture. This presentation will end with showing how the W3C building data ontologies can find a foothold in these newer web application developments, while not disrupting the industry.

Bio: Pieter Pauwels holds a Master degree (2008) and PhD degree (2012) in Engineering – Architecture from Ghent University, Belgium. He is assistant professor and postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning in Ghent University. His work and interests are in information system support for the building life-cycle (architectural design, construction, building operation, re-use). Besides lecturing, he is involved in a number of industry-oriented research projects on topics affiliated to Building Information Modelling (BIM), Linked Building Data, Linked Data in Architecture and Construction, and Semantic Web technologies.

Riichiro Mizoguchi, Research Center for Service Science, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Nomi, Ishikawa, Japan (personal web page).

Slides of the talk here
Device ontology: An enabling technology for consistent modeling of physical systems.
Abstract: Modeling is the key to the successful  engineering application. Roughly speaking, ontology is expected to help modeling by providing a system of fundamental concepts underlying the domain under consideration. Although it is true, the utility is rather weak because practitioners need more direct help for modeling the target systems. I believe it would be a conceptual framework which appropriately guides them to successful modeling of the dynamism of systems. Device ontology has been devised to provide such a conceptual framework and has been extensively used in the whole experiences of my engineering applications in the context of ontology engineering. It enables you to capture dynamism of systems in a consistent manner. Device ontology is composed of a set of vocabulary supported by a role theory and is viewed as a role assignment system. It is applicable to any object in any domain including a book on the table which is not considered as a device usually. In my talk, I discuss device ontology together with its advantages and applications to functional modeling of devices.

11:15-11:30 Coffee break

Chiara Ghidini, Process and Data Intelligence, FBK, Trento (personal web page)

Slides of the talk here
: Ontologies & Business process modeling languages: two proposals for a fruitful pairing.
Abstract: Representing business processes via conceptual models is a key task of modern organisations. This has led to the development of a number of Business Process Modeling (BPM) notations, which often encompass the modeling of the mere control flow. Despite this fact, thorough formal investigations on the semantics of BPM modeling languages are often restricted to the elements of the control flow, and have a deep execution based flavor. As a consequence, the interpretation of business process modelling diagrams is often let to the understanding of the modelers (or the readers).
In this talk I will present two research efforts devoted to address this problem. In the first effort, a formal ontological description of the Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN), one of the most popular languages for business process modelling, was developed. The proposed ontology (the BPMN Ontology) provides a classification of all the (graphical) elements of BPMN, together with the formal specification of attributes and conditions describing how the elements can be combined in a BPMN business process description. Using the classes and the properties defined in the BPMN Ontology any BPMN diagram can be represented as an A-box (i.e., a set of instances and assertions on them) of the ontology: this allows the exploitation of ontological reasoning services such as consistency checking and query answering to investigate the compliance of a process with the BPMN Specification as well as other structural properties of the process. The second (ongoing) effort makes an attempt to compare a wide range of BPM notations in order to provide an ontological characterisation of process elements, among which process participants, that is, the main entities involved in a business process. Purpose of this effort is to start filling this gap by providing an ontological analysis of business processes from the standpoint of process participants.

Michael Grüninger,
Semantic Technologies Laboratory, University of Toronto, Canada (personal web page)

Slides of the talk here
Process Ontologies in Action
Abstract: Representing activities and the constraints on their occurrences is an integral aspect of commonsense reasoning, particularly in manufacturing, enterprise modelling, and robotics. If we focus on a domain such as manufacturing, we see the need to integrate software applications in areas such as scheduling, process modeling, process planning, production planning, simulation, project management, workflow, and business process reengineering. Given this diversity of applications, it is not surprising that there is a clash of semantics; what is surprising is that it is often unclear how to even express the intended semantics for process-related concepts. In this talk, we will use the Process Specification Language (PSL) Ontology to explore the landscape of process modelling. Starting with a set of motivating scenarios, we will show how to correctly axiomatize process descriptions, as well as provide a framework for the evaluation of such descriptions with respect to their real-world behaviour.

Bio: Michael Grüninger is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. He returned to Canada after spending five years as an Assistant Research Scientist in the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland College Park and also a Guest Researcher at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).

Before that, Michael was a Senior Research Scientist in the Enterprise Integration Laboratory of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. Michael received his Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Toronto and his B.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Alberta.

His current research focuses on the design and formal characterization of theories in mathematical logic and their application to problems in manufacturing and enterprise engineering. His most recent work on the Process Specification Language has been published as an International Standard (ISO 18629).

First Workshop on Ontology and Engineering in Tandem

Half-day on using ontology to help engineering

Wednesday, February 8, 9:30-12:00

09:30-9:45 Stefano Borgo
Introduction to the event

09:45-10:45 Bob Young
Title: Manufacturing reference ontologies – a route to knowledge sharing and interoperability?

Abstract: Competitive manufacturing industries are always striving to be “better, faster and cheaper” to stay ahead of their competition. This requires the ability to make successful business decisions against substantial time constraints and with limited high quality information. However, although ICT tools for manufacturing industry have advanced dramatically in recent years they do have significant drawbacks when it comes to providing the holistic capabilities that are critical to long-term competitive solutions. Part of the solution to this problem lies in the exploitation of semantic technologies that provide a formal, logic base route to sharing meaning.
The effective exploitation of semantic technologies for knowledge sharing and interoperability is not easy, as is evident from the on-going problems that exist in industrial decision support environments. This presentation discusses the problems from a manufacturing perspective and argues for the development of manufacturing reference ontologies that sit between foundation and domain ontologies. The results of a number of projects, culminating in the recently completed EU Factories of the Future FLEXINET project, will be used to demonstrate how this is possible, linking a wide range of manufacturing software support applications, all interacting based on an underlying knowledge base that utilised the reference ontology. This approach will be discussed in terms of its potential development to provide a common shared understanding that can be flexibly and dynamically applied to transform manufacturing industry in the next phase of the information revolution.

Bio: Prof Young is Professor of Manufacturing Informatics in the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough University in the UK. He has some 40 years experience in new product development and manufacturing engineering, working both in UK industry and in academia. His research is focused on exploiting advanced Information and Communications Technologies to aid multi-disciplinary teams of engineers in their decision-making through the provision of timely, high quality information and knowledge.  To that end his research in recent years has been heavily focused towards the development and use of formal ontologies as a basis for effective knowledge sharing and interoperability in manufacturing.
Prof Young works with a broad range of manufacturing companies from large multi-nationals in the aerospace and automotive sectors to more local manufacturing SMEs. In this latter area he is a director of TANet, an organisation aimed at providing support to the UK SME manufacturing sector. As well as working closely with industry, Prof Young is committed to developing effective information standards for manufacture. To that end he is deputy convenor of the international standards organisation working group concerned with “manufacturing process and management data”, ISO TC184 SC4 JWG8. Prof Young also leads a task group within the EU’s Virtual Laboratory for Interoperability or INTEROP-VLab. This group is focused on developing improved methods for Manufacturing Enterprise Interoperability.

11:00-12:00 Ferruccio Mandorli
Title: Knowledge representation in mechanical drawings and MCAD models

Abstract: Mechanical drawings and 3D MCAD models play a central role in the design/production process. Both can be considered “documents” aimed at representing the shape of mechanical components and assembly as well as additional (technological) information, required for product development. The presentation will summarize similarities and differences of knowledge representation in this two types of documents, with particular reference to the influence that the skills of the author and the limitation of the modeling tool may have on the representation of implicit (or tacit) knowledge. The objective is to define an educational approach aimed at overcoming the limitations of traditional drawing and modeling teaching methodologies, mainly based on standards, best practices and guidelines.

Bio: Ferruccio is full professor at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Mathematics Science at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, where he teaches Mechanical Drawing and Computer Aided Design. He obtained a degree in Computer Science from the University of Milan in 1990. After spending 10 months at the University of Tokyo (Kimura Laboratory, Department of Precision Machinery Engineering, Faculty of Engineering) as guest researcher, thanks to a CNR scholarship, he entered the Ph.D. course in Engineering of Industrial Production at the Industrial Engineering Department of the University of Parma where he was awarded his Ph.D. in 1995. Feature-Based methodologies and Knowledge Aided Engineering Systems have been his topics of research for several years. At present, his main interest is focused on the methodologies and tools to support education in the mechanical engineering area.


Location: Sala Grande B (ground floor)
Laboratory for Applied Ontology (ISTC-CNR)
via alla Cascata 56/C
Povo, Trento

For further info: stefano.borgo [at]


International Workshop on Computer vision + ONTology: Applied Cross-disciplinary Technologies (CONTACT 2016)

Image and video understanding is the process of converting elementary visual entities (pixels, voxels) to symbolic forms of knowledge (textual tags, predicates), by means of various kinds of models (statistical classifiers, neural networks, knowledge-based systems, etc.). It represents the highest processing level in a computer vision system, operating usually on top of a basic processing layer, which extracts intermediate image representations (patches, volumes).

This semantic layer provides in principle the meaning of the symbolic forms associated to visual entities. In order to develop a principled methodology to ascribe meaning to images and videos, we need ontologies for modelling the domain knowledge, for providing an interpretation of the vocabulary chosen for the visual description of a domain, and for reasoning about the conceptualization of the visual entities.

The process of ascribing meaning to visual elements is a delicate and crucial step in computer vision, an effective modelling of this process is the key to enable a number of applications such that querying image databases, reasoning about images and scenes, inferring information from videos.

The aim of the CONTACT series is to bring together a wide range of researchers in formal ontology on the one side and computer vision and machine learning on the other, to share innovative ideas and solutions for exploiting the potential synergies emerging from the integration of the two domains, with the long term goals of promoting the development of a proper visual ontology and a better understanding of how such a visual ontology could be used for visual inference.

This is the second edition of CONTACT ( and it aims to address specifically scholar in ontology for promoting the applications of techniques developed in ontology and knowledge representation to computer vision.

Important dates:

Submission (abstracts): April 19, 3 May, 2016
Submission (full papers): April 25, 9 May, 2016
Notification: 12 May, 30 May, 2016
Camera ready: 31 May, 15 June 2016

FOIS early registration: 5 June, 2016.
Workshop:  6, July 2016.

Organizing Committee:

Marco Cristani (,,

Céline Hudelot (,,

Daniele Porello (,

by Dr. Radut