HCLS/AFO Foundational Ontology

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AFO Foundational Ontology

AFO is an ontology that interoperates with the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) and the Relation Ontology (RO), but that does not have some of the limitations that are inevitably associated with the OWL representation of BFO. The most important problems addressed by AFO are the need for granularity independence and the need for the representation of temporal relations between physical objects in standard OWL DL. Solving these problems in an elegant way might not be possible by refining the current version of BFO in OWL, i.e. by creating subclasses and subproperties of BFO, because any change in this direction can easily violate the basic principles of BFO. So instead of adding constructs to the higher branches of BFO as subclasses, AFO introduces new superclasses and superproperties to the existing classes and properties of BFO and RO.

The name 'AFO' is a recursive acronym for "AFO Foundational Ontology", referring to the fact that the ontology is even more basic than the BFO ('A' comes before 'B' in the alphabet). AFO is not meant to replace BFO, but to act as an alternative for projects that find BFO too restrictive or complex for their specific needs, and that want to retain the best possible interoperability with BFO and RO.

The design criteria for AFO are as follows:

  • Granularity independence.
  • Ability to fully represent time in standard OWL through "full temporary parts" of physical objects ('4D view').
  • Best possible interoperability with BFO and ontologies based on BFO without introduction of logical inconsistencies.
  • Direct integration of the OBO Relation Ontology into AFO and best possible interoperability with ontologies that are based on the OBO Relation Ontology.
  • A generic transitive property called "has part (etc.)" that is a super-property of all properties that imply parthood and containment between objects and processes.
  • Focus on the most basic useful ontological constructs and distinctions, avoidance of unintuitive terms like 'continuant' or 'occurent'.
  • Defined deadline for ontology modifications: full stability of ontology structure and namespace after September 15, 2007.

The ontology can be imported from http://purl.org/zen/afo.owl

A bridge between AFO and BFO 1.1 can be imported from http://purl.org/zen/afo-bfo-bridge.owl

AFO is developed by Matthias Samwald (MatthiasSamwald)