HCLS/OntologyTaskForce/BFOProcessDefinitionDiscussion

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Clarifying Definition of BFO:Process

Can we define the notion of a process consistently across Multiple Domains?

It is probably a good idea to validate BFO definitions by using a wide variety of use cases from different domains. For instance, we are currently applying use cases from Distributed Computation and AI/Planning to "test" the definition of BFO:Process.

At the very least it will help us identify:

  • How do prcesses as defined in different domains differ?
  • Can these different definitions be incorporated in a common underlying framework?
  • Can processes of different kinds defined either as continuants or occurrents be incorporated under a common generic process definition?

In the more immediate HCLS context this issue is very important as there are different kinds of processes:

  • Biological Processes
  • Clinical Care Processes
  • Disease Progression Processes from a Biological point of View
  • Disease Progression Processes from a Clinical point of View.
Biological Processes

Examples of biological processes (in GALEN): subclasses of galen:NAMEDPhysiologicalProcess:

Vascular perfusion (Wikipedia definition)

Wordnet definition of perfusion (noun):

  (n) perfusion (pumping a liquid into an organ or tissue (especially by way of blood vessels))


Class: galen:VascularPerfusion 
SubClassOf: ( galen:isSpecificFunctionOf some galen:BloodVessel ),
              galen:NAMEDCirculatoryProcess,
            ( galen:isImmediateConsequenceOf some galen:BloodCirculation ) 


Disease Progression Processes (a Clinical Perspective)
  1. a cpr:clinical-examination indicates a (low severity) disease.
  2. Later a cpr:diagnostic-act (an angiogram, for instance) identifies the same disease with a more progressed severity
  3. Finally, another cpr:diagnostic-act identifies the same disease at maximum severity (terminal illness, for example)

Consider (for example) the progression of a coronary artery embolism from the perspective of the primary care physician for the patient in question:


Class: galen:CoronaryArteryEmbolism 
    SubClassOf: ( ( galen:hasSpecificLocation some galen:CoronaryArtery ) and galen:EmbolismLesion ) 
Class: galen:EmbolismLesion 
    SubClassOf: ( ( galen:hasUniqueAssociatedProcess some galen:EmbolismProcess ) and galen:PathologicalBodyStructure ) 


Clinical Care Processes

Instances of clinical care activities. Defined as cpr:clinical-act in the Problem-oriented Medical Record ontology. See the mapping with other ontologies for more formal definitions.

From Elisabeth Bayegan's thesis:

8.2.2 (The Primary-Care Process)
  Activities in the primary-care process are divided into two types of activities, administrative activities and clinical (encounter) activities. We have focused on the latter group of activities, activities that are relevant for medical decision making; where the clinical activities are dependent on information from the patient-record system. We say that the clinical activities belong to the clinical encounter. The division of activities into two different types, administrative and clinical, 
Process (5.6 Activities in the Primary-Care - Conclusion)
   We have identified a limited set of generic subprocesses and care activities for the primary-care process that enable us to model the primary-care clinic as an organization that performs processes, which are composed of a set of activities, where each activity defines a purpose and is performed by one or more participants.

Competing Definitions of Process

  1. Computational process:
    • Wikipedia: A computational process is a set of actions/tasks performed sequentially or concurrently across single or mutliple locations. It is the execution of a program and can have multiple "states" or "phases". Each action/task can be performed by different actors or participants. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process%28computing%29
    • OpenCyc: The collection of events in which a process is executed on a Computer, and therefore using the Computer's resources. Examples: a ComputerProgram-CW running, an OperatingSystem in use, or a ComputerCrashing event. Important specs are ComputerProcess-Generic for the complete operation of a computer program from start to finish and ProgramAction for the execution of code as designed (thus excluding the ComputerCrashing event
  2. Biological Process:
  3. Clinical Care Process: is a set of actions/tasks performed by clinical staff in the context of providing clinical care to
   a patient. Typical tasks are: Diagnosis, Risk Screening, Preventive Care, Management of various pstient state parameters such as
   Blood Pressure, Lipids, etc., Immunization, Long Term Management, Follow Up, Surveillance, etc.
Similarities and Differences across different processes (Boris)
  • Computational, biological and clinical processes can be executed by various actors so this is a similarity
  • Computational process executes something called a program. A clinical process executes something called a care plan.
  • The level of specifiability of a realizable: computational processes are specified in detail using programs whereas
  clinical processes are sometimes built around norms, rules, actions, scripts, procedures, etc. and may not be 
  as specifable (or computable? - Vipul)