Intensive course :

Ontological Foundations for Conceptual Modeling with Applications

(4it483 Modern Approaches to the Information Systems Development)

Giancarlo Guizzardi
Ontology and Conceptual Modeling Research Group (NEMO)
Computer Science Department, Federal University of Espírito Santo, Vitória, Brazil,


Description and Objectives

The main objective of this course is to introduce researchers to the theory and practice of advanced conceptual modeling through the application of a new emerging discipline named Ontology Driven Conceptual Modeling.
Conceptual Modeling is a discipline of great importance to several areas in Computer Science. Its main objective is concerned with identifying, analyzing and describing the essential concepts and constraints of a universe of discourse, with the help of a (diagrammatic) modeling language that is based on a set of basic modeling concepts (forming a metamodel). In this course, we show how Conceptual Modeling and Requirements Engineering Languages (e.g., UML, ORM, EER, TROPOS) can be evaluated and (re)designed with the purpose of improving their ontological adequacy. In simple terms, ontological adequacy is a measure of how truthful the models produced using a modeling language are to the situations in the reality they are supposed to represent, and how easy it is for users to use these models for communicating, domain learning and problem-solving.
The course starts by briefly discussing a systematic evaluation method for comparing a metamodel of the concepts underlying a language to a reference ontology of the corresponding domain in reality. The focus is on general conceptual modeling languages (as opposed to domain specific ones). Hence, the reference ontology employed here is a foundational (or upper-level) ontology. Moreover, since, it focuses on structural modeling aspects (as opposed to dynamic ones), this foundational ontology is an ontology of objects, their properties and relations, their parts, the roles they play, and the types they instantiate.
The foundational ontology which is adopted in this course termed the Unified Foundational Ontology (UFO) has been developed by adapting and extending a number of theories coming, primarily, from formal ontology in philosophy, but also from cognitive science, philosophical logics and linguistics. Once developed, every sub-theory of the ontology is used for the creation of methodological tools (e.g., modeling profiles, guidelines and design patterns). The expressiveness and relevance of these tools are shown throughout the presentation to solve some classical and recurrent conceptual modeling problems. Moreover, their application is exemplified through their use in different industrial scenarios in domains such as Telecommunications, Bioinformatics and Energy (Petroleum and Gas).
Furthermore, the course includes the presentation of a computational environment that automates the aforementioned methodological tools, thus, providing support for: (i) “ontological correctness by design” in conceptual modeling; (ii) model validation by simulation.

Finally, the course concludes with a brief presentation of the remaining fragments of the Unified Foundational Ontology), namely, a Foundational Ontology of Events termed UFO-B; and a Foundational Ontology of Intentional and Social Aspects named UFO-C. The course concludes with a brief illustration of current applications of both these ontologies.

Course Schedule

Monday 12.9.2016 - Friday 16.9.2016
9.15 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.
room No. NB 457

Topics to be Covered

PART 1 – Terminological Clarifications and Language Evaluation and Design

PART 2 – Designing an Ontologically Well-Founded Conceptual Modeling Language

PART 3 – Engineering Support and Applications

PART 4 – A Brief Introduction to Foundational Theories of Event and Action

Publications Related to the Course

The material discussed in this course is discussed in depth in the book monograph entitled Ontological Foundations for Structural Conceptual Models (Telematica Instituut Fundamental Research Series, The Netherlands, 2005, ISBN 90-75176-81-3). Moreover, the topics included here have been discussed in a number of publications in international conferences (including ER, CAISE, FOIS and MODELS) as well as in international journals in the area. A selection of these related publications is presented in the sequel:
  1. GUIZZARDI, G., Ontological Foundations for Conceptual Part-Whole Relations: The Case of Collectives and their Parts, 23rd International Conference on Advanced Information System Engineering (CAiSE'11), London, UK.

  2. GONÇALVES, B.N.; GUIZZARDI, G.; PEREIRA FILHO, J.G., Using an ECG reference ontology for semantic interoperability of ECG data, Journal of Biomedical Informatics, Special Issue on Ontologies for Clinical and Translational Research, Editors: Barry Smith, W

  3. GUIZZARDI, G., Theoretical Foundations and Engineering Tools for Building Ontologies as Reference Conceptual Models, Semantic Web Journal, Editors-in-Chief: Pascal Hitzler and Krzysztof Janowicz, IOS Press, Amsterdam, 2010.

  4. GUIZZARDI, R. S. S., GUIZZARDI, G. Ontology-Based Transformation Framework from Tropos to AORML In Social Modeling for Requirements Engineering, P. Giorgini, N. Maiden, J. Mylopoulos, E. Yu (eds.), Cooperative Information Systems Series, MIT Press, Boston

  5. GUIZZARDI, G. On the Representation of Quantities and their Parts in Conceptual Modeling, 6th International Conference on Formal Ontologies in Information Systems (FOIS 2010), Toronto, 2010.

  6. BRAGA, B., ALMEIDA, J.P.A., GUIZZARDI, G.; BENEVIDES, A.B. Transforming OntoUML into Alloy: Towards Conceptual Model Validation using a Lightweight Formal Method, Innovations in System and Software Engineering (ISSE), Springer-Verlag, 2010.

  7. BENEVIDES, A.B.; GUIZZARDI, G.; BRAGA, B.F.B.; ALMEIDA, J.P.A., Validating modal aspects of OntoUML conceptual models using automatically generated visual world structures, Journal of Universal Computer Science, Special Issue on Evolving Theories of Conceptual modeling

  8. GUIZZARDI, G., Wagner, G. Using the Unified Foundational Ontology (UFO) as a Foundation for General Conceptual Modeling Languages In: Theory and Application of Ontologies, ed.Berlim: Springer-Verlag, 2010.

  9. GUIZZARDI, G.; LOPES, M.; BAIÃO, F.; FALBO, R. On the importance of truly ontological representation languages, International Journal of Information Systems Modeling and Design (IJISMD), IGI-Global, 2010.

  10. ZAMBORLINI, V.; GUIZZARDI, G., On the representation of temporally changing information in OWL, IEEE 5th Joint International Workshop on Vocabularies, Ontologies and Rules for The Enterprise (VORTE) – Metamodels, Ontologies and Semantic Technologies (MOST), together with 15th International Enterprise Computing Conference (EDOC 2010), Vitória, Brazil, 2010.

  11. GUIZZARDI, G. The Problem of Transitivity of Part-Whole Relations in Conceptual Modeling Revisited, 21st International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAISE’09), Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2009.

  12. GUIZZARDI, G., HALPIN, T. Ontological Foundations for Conceptual Modeling. Applied Ontology. , v.3, p.91 - 110, 2008.

  13. GUIZZARDI, G., Wagner, G. What’s in a Relationship: An Ontological Analysis, 27th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling (ER'2008), Barcelona, Spain, Lecture Notes in Computer Science. , v.5231, p.83 - 97, 2008.

  14. GUIZZARDI, G., FALBO, R. A., GUIZZARDI, R. S. S. Grounding Software Domain Ontologies in the Unified Foundational Ontology (UFO): The case of the ODE Software Process Ontology, In: 11th Iberoamerican Conference on Software Engineering (CIbSE’2008), 2008, Recife.

  15. Guizzardi, G.; Masolo, C.; Borgo, S. In the Defense of a Trope-Based Ontology for Conceptual Modeling: An Example with the Foundations of Attributes, Weak Entities and Datatypes, 25th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling (ER’2006), Arizona, USA, 2006.

  16. Guizzardi, G. Modal Aspects of Object Types and Part-Whole Relations and the de re/de dicto distinction, 19th International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAISE’07), Trondheim, 2007, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4495, Springer-Verlag.

  17. Guarino, N.; Guizzardi, G., In the Defense of Ontological Foundations for Conceptual Modeling, Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, Vol.18, No. 1, ISSN 0905-0167, 2006.

  18. Guizzardi, G.; Ferreira Pires, L.; van Sinderen, M. An Ontology-Based Approach for Evaluating the Domain Appropriateness and Comprehensibility Appropriateness of Modeling Languages, ACM/IEEE 8th International Conference on Model Driven Engineering Languages and Systems (MODELS’05), Montego Bay, Jamaica, 2005, Lecture Notes in Computer Science LNCS 3713, Springer-Verlag.

  19. Guizzardi, G.; Wagner, G.; Guarino, N.; van Sinderen, M., An Ontologically Well-Founded Profile for UML Conceptual Models, 16th International Conference on Advances in Information Systems Engineering (CAiSE’04), Latvia, 2004. Springer-Verlag , Berlin, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3084, ISBN 3-540-22151-4.

  20. Guizzardi, G.; Herre, H.; Wagner G. On the General Ontological Foundations of Conceptual Modeling”, 21st International Conference on Conceptual Modeling (ER-2002), Tampere, Finland, 2002.Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 2503, ISBN 3-540-44277-4.

  21. ALMEIDA, J. P. A.; GUIZZARDI, G.; SANTOS JR., P. S. Applying and Extending a Semantic Foundation for Role-Related Concepts in Enterprise Modelling. Journal of Enterprise Information Systems, 2009.

  22. Guarino, N.; Guizzardi, G., In the Defense of Ontological Foundations for Conceptual Modeling, Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, Vol.18, No. 1, ISSN 0905-0167, 2006.

Short Bio of the Proponent

Giancarlo  Guizzardi  obtained  a  PhD  degree  (with  the  highest  distinction)  from  the  University of Twente, in The Netherlands in 2005. Since 2003 he has been a Visiting  Scientist,  Research  Collaborator  and  Associated  Researcher  at  the  Laboratory  for  Applied  Ontology  (LOA),  Institute  for  Cognitive  Science  and  Technology  (ISTC),  in  Trento,  Italy.  He  is  currently  an  Associate  Professor  at  the  Computer  Science  Department at the Federal University of Espírito Santo, in Vitória, Brazil, where he is one  of  the  coordinators  of  the  Ontology  and  Conceptual  Modeling  Research  Group (NEMO). 
He  has  been  working  since  1997  in  the  development  of  Domain  and  Foundational Ontologies and their application in computer science and, primarily, in the  area of Conceptual Modeling. He is the author of more than 100 publications in the area of  Ontology  and  Conceptual  Modeling,  including  the  book  monograph  “Ontological  Foundations for Structural Conceptual Models”. For these publications, he has received distinctions such as the CAiSE 2004 best paper award, the CIbSE 2008 (Ibero-American Conference on Software Engineering) Distinguished Paper Award, the SBES 2001 (Brazilian Symposium on Software Engineering) Best Paper Award, as well as the nomination for the  Christian Huygens Science Award at the Dutch Academy of Science.
His experience in  the  area  has  also  been  acquired  in  a  number  of  academic  and  industrial  projects  in  domains  such  as  Off-Shore  Software  Development,  Petroleum  and  Gas,  Medical  Informatics,  Telecommunications  and  News   Information  Management.  He  is  an  editorial board member of the Semantic Web Journal and of the International Journal of Information Systems Analysis and Design (IJISAD), as well as an associate editor of the Applied Ontology journal. He has  been  the  initiator  of  a  number  of  scientific  events  in  the  area  of  ontologies  and  conceptual modeling (e.g., VORTE, MOST, WOMSDE, Onto.Com) and was  the program  co-chair  of  the  15th  IEEE  International  Conference  on  Enterprise  Computing  (EDOC 2010).
Furthermore, over the years, he has been promoting the discipline of Ontology-Driven Conceptual Modeling in a number of scientific events as a tutorialist (e.g., ER 2009, CIbSE 2011, CAISE 2011), visiting professor (e.g., SIKS Dutch Research School, Prague University of Economics), panel moderator (United Nations Development Program – 2010 Global Meeting on Government Interoperability Frameworks), invited speaker (e.g., CONSEGI 2011 – International Conference on Open Software and E-Government)  and  keynote  speaker  (e.g.,  BALTIC DB&IS  2006,  Webmedia/SBSC/LAWeb  2008,  SoEA4EE  2010).  Finally,  he  is  a  member  of  the  executive  council  of  the  International  Association  of  Ontologies  and Applications (IAOA), and a co-chair of its International Outreach Committee and of its SIG on Ontologies and Conceptual Modeling.

Course materials

First day - part 1
First day - part 2
Second day - presentation
First day - complement
Ontological Patterns, Anti-Patterns and Pattern Languages for Next-Generation Conceptual Modeling, ER2014 Key-note
Towards Ontological Foundations for Conceptual Modeling: UFO Story