[crm-sig] competitors

Christian-Emil Ore c.e.s.ore at edd.uio.no
Mon Mar 28 16:34:07 EEST 2005

Dear all,
I have read some of the stuff on the SUO pages and have compiled a few 

I checked the web-pages of the SUO. My first impression is that the people 
behind SUO are computer scientists and that their work is based on/heavily 
influenced by the mathematical field "Category Theory" (CT). This is not 
surprising since CT is generalised algebra. When I worked as a theoretical 
computer scientist (until 1990) CT  was used by people doing proof theory 
and making proof systems and thus in cognitive science and AI. CT had its 
golden age around 1970 when it was almost an industrial production of 
CT-papers. CT can be extremely abstract and hard to understand for 
non-mathematician. The book shown at one of the SUO page "Categories for 
the working mathematician" is meant to be an introduction to the field, but 
is more like a reference book for the advanced level.

CT is in itself interesting and well suited as a language to describe 
logics, type theories and apparently ontologies seen as mathematical 

On the SUO and related pages there are mostly papers and presentations of 
general ontological concepts, systems, lattice theory and category theory 
stuff. The purpose of SUO is:

"This standard will specify an upper ontology that will enable computers to 
utilize it for applications such as data interoperability, information 
search and retrieval, automated inferencing, and natural language 
processing. An ontology is similar to a dictionary or glossary, but with 
greater detail and structure that enables computers to process its content. 
An ontology consists of a set of concepts, axioms, and relationships that 
describe a domain of interest. An upper ontology is limited to concepts 
that are meta, generic, abstract and philosophical, and therefore are 
general enough to address (at a high level) a broad range of domain areas. 
Concepts specific to given domains will not be included; however, this 
standard will provide a structure and a set of general concepts upon which 
domain ontologies (e.g. medical, financial, engineering, etc.) could be 

CIDOC CRM is presented as a domain specific ontology both at page iii in 
the introduction of the standard and according to the above definitions. 
Hwever, the scope of CRM is the reference information of museum object a 
rather wide domain.

  It may be possible to generalise CRM a little by stripping of some of the 
more museum specific classes and generalise some of the museum specific 
scope notes. CRM is "general enough to address (at a high level) a broad 
range of domain areas". Thus on may say that it is an upper ontology 
according to the rather vague definition given by SUO above.

I guess it should be possible to formulate (an adjusted) CRM in terms of 
Category Theory. But such formalization will perhaps just be an exercise.


At 11:59 23.03.2005, martin wrote:
>Dear All,
>I just heard about this message from the SUO (Standard Upper Ontology) team:
>...We know that making serious progress on a broadly acceptable common upper
>ontology (I prefer "default upper ontology" -- the most widely used ontology
>that one uses for interoperability purposes when you don't have any good 
>for using something else), would require a collaborative effort that would be
>expensive.  I estimated 3 million dollars two years ago; it would probably be
>more now.  But without that project, we might still be able to do something
>useful on this list ...
>So far, we have been considerably cheaper. Nevertheless, it would be 
>helpful if
>someone could devote time to compare the CRM with SUO.
>  Dr. Martin Doerr              |  Vox:+30(2810)391625        |
>  Principle Researcher          |  Fax:+30(2810)391638        |
>                                |  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr |
>                                                              |
>                Center for Cultural Informatics               |
>                Information Systems Laboratory                |
>                 Institute of Computer Science                |
>    Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)   |
>                                                              |
>  Vassilika Vouton,P.O.Box1385,GR71110 Heraklion,Crete,Greece |
>                                                              |
>          Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl               |
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