The Role of Ontology in Integrating Semantically Heterogeneous Databases

More and more enterprises are currently undertaking projects to integrate their applications. They are finding that one of the more difficult tasks facing them is determining how the data from one application matches semantically with the data from the other applications. Currently there are few methodologies for undertaking this task – most commercial projects just rely on experience and intuition. Taking semantically heterogeneous databases as the prototypical situation, this paper describes how ontology (in the traditional metaphysical sense) can contribute to delivering a more efficient and effective process of matching by providing a framework for the analysis, and so the basis for a methodology. It delivers not only a better process for matching, but the process also gives a better result. This paper describes a couple of examples of this: how the analysis encourages a kind of generalisation that reduces complexity and how ontological relativity can be used to enhance this. Finally, it suggests that the benefits are not just restricted to individual integration projects: that the process produces models which can be used as to construct a universal reference ontology – for general use in a variety of types of projects.


LOA (LADSEB-CNR), Technical Report 05/02, June 2002, Padova, Italy


Chris Partridge (BORO Solutions, LOA)