On September 29, Karl Hammar successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled “Content Ontology Design Patterns: Qualities, Methods, and Tools”. The thesis was first presented by the opponent, professor Harald Sack, FIZ, Karlsruhe, Germany, who then continued to discuss the research results and future ideas with Karl. The three members of the examining committee then continued the discussion with Karl, before unanimously deciding to approve his thesis and award the PhD degree to Karl. At which point we could all congratulate him to a an interesting defence and an excellent thesis. In particular, his three supervisors, Henrik Eriksson (LiU), Eva Blomqvist (LiU) and Vladimir Tarassov (JTH) were of course the first to congratulate him, followed by colleagues and family.
Karl Hammar’s research has aimed to combine quantitative and qualitative research methods, primarily based on five ontology engineering projects involving inexperienced ontologists, studying how Ontology Design Patterns (ODPs) can support that specific group of users. A series of ontology engineering workshops and surveys provided data about developer preferences regarding ODP features and quality, ODP usage methodology, and ODP tooling needs. Other data sources were ontologies and ODPs published on the web, which have been studied in detail. To evaluate tooling improvements, experimental approaches provided data from comparison of new tools and techniques against established alternatives.
The analysis of the gathered data resulted in a set of measurable quality indicators that cover aspects of ODP documentation, formal representation or axiomatisation, and usage by ontologists. These indicators highlight quality trade-offs: for instance, between ODP Learnability and Reusability, or between Functional Suitability and Performance Efficiency. These are things that ontology engineers need to keep in mind when using ODPs in their ontologies, and in particular if they are inexperienced ontologists. Furthermore, the results demonstrated a need for ODP tools that support three novel property specialisation strategies, and highlighted the preference of inexperienced developers for template-based ODP instantiation, neither of which were supported in prior tooling. The studies also resulted in improvements to ODP search engines based on ODP-specific attributes. Finally, the analysis showed that a specific ontology engineering methodology, the eXtreme Design (XD), should include guidance for developer roles and responsibilities in ontology engineering projects, suggestions on how to reuse existing ontology resources, and approaches for adapting XD to project-specific contexts. Karl therefore proposed a new version of the XD methodology, specifically covering these aspects.
The thesis can be found here.