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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).

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