COSIKnE Process Leads to U.S. Armed Forces Data Integration
At SAIC, we have developed and refined a six-step process for developing ontology-based knowledge models for our government customers to help them bridge the gap between data and decision-making. In fact, this process supports all of SAIC’s work related to constructing ontologies, semantic integration, and knowledge engineering — or “COSIKnE.” The six-step process allows us to build knowledge models and their components systematically and rigorously with logical frameworks that enable semantic integration and computationally assisted reasoning of data from information systems that are oftentimes disparate.
In a previous blog, we discussed how during step 5 we create computable ontologies that can semantically link the disparate data sets and terminologies of each U.S. armed services branch for the Department of Defense’s joint all-domain command-and-control (JADC2) strategy. Conducting steps 3 and 4 in tandem is equally important because it ensures that the knowledge models produced by our experts are logical and can be integrated into users’ existing data holdings.
In establishing a taxonomical hierarchy (Step 3), we extend an upper-level ontology standard, such as the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), to domain terms and their relationships. This step is important because it ensures that all sub-classes follow logically from their parent. Also, it guarantees the knowledge model’s interoperability with all other knowledge models that follow the same ontology standard, through the semantic and relational connections.
Think of the BFO as an intermediary reference system like musical symbols and notations. A Russian violinist can sit with the English-speaking Boston Symphony Orchestra, read a sheet of music, and play the piece without missing a note. Adherence to an ontology standard like the BFO is thus critical as the military branches and echelons develop their knowledge models, as it will semantically link all of them for the JADC2 connected battlespace.
Semantic integration enables human-to-human and computer-to-computer information exchange across the entire U.S. armed forces. An important benefit is that artificial intelligence can be applied in an auditable fashion for computationally assisted reasoning, interpretation, and automation. However, following only this "top-down" approach in step 3 to representing domain knowledge in a knowledge model could lead to generation of an incomplete representation of the domain of interest. This incomplete representation will limit the user's ability to answer decision-support questions effectively.