Automated Ontology Merging and Alignment

Natasha Fridman Noy
Stanford Medical Informatics


Researchers in the ontology-design field have developed the content for ontologies in many domain areas. Recently, ontologies have become increasingly common on the World-Wide Web where they provide semantics for annotations in Web pages. This distributed nature of ontology development has led to a large number of ontologies covering overlapping domains. In order for these ontologies to be reused, they first need to be merged or aligned to one another. The processes of ontology alignment and merging are usually handled manually and often constitute a large and tedious portion of the sharing process. We have developed and implemented PROMPT, an algorithm that provides a semi-automatic approach to ontology merging and alignment. PROMPT performs some tasks automatically and guides the user in performing other tasks for which his intervention is required. It also determines possible inconsistencies in the state of the ontology, which result from the user's actions, and suggests ways to remedy these inconsistencies. To make its decisions, PROPMT analyzes the structure of an ontology, relations among concepts, and restrictions on properties. Our approach is based on an extremely general knowledge model and therefore can be applied across various platforms. Our formative evaluation showed that a human expert followed 90% of the suggestions that PROMPT generated and that 74% of the total knowledge base operations invoked by the user were suggested by PROMPT. In this talk we will present our ontology-merging algorithm and describe the implementation of PROMPT. We will also describe our formative evaluation that determine the effectiveness of the tool and compared its performance to the performance of other ontology-merging tools.


Natalya F. Noy is a research scientist at the Stanford Medical Informatics. She has a B.S. in applied mathematics from Moscow State University , Russia, an M.A. Computer Science from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Northeastern University. Her interests include ontology development and evaluation, semantic integration of ontologies, and making ontology-development accessible to experts in non-computer-science domains.