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Who will Classify the Classifications? Differing Views of Biomedical Ontology Mark A. Musen Stanford Medical Informatics Stanford University.

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Presentation on theme: "Who will Classify the Classifications? Differing Views of Biomedical Ontology Mark A. Musen Stanford Medical Informatics Stanford University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Who will Classify the Classifications? Differing Views of Biomedical Ontology Mark A. Musen Stanford Medical Informatics Stanford University

2 Supreme genus: SUBSTANCE Subordinate genera: BODYSPIRIT Differentiae: material immaterial Differentiae: animate inanimate Differentiae: sensitive insensitive Subordinate genera: LIVING MINERAL Proximate genera: ANIMALPLANT Species: HUMANBEAST Differentiae: rational irrational Individuals: Socrates Plato Aristotle … Porphyrys depiction of Aristotles Categories

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5 This talk is meant to be descriptive in nature We acept that an ontology is anything that its developers call an ontology Our goal is to survey how biomedical ontologies are being used in practice Ultimately, this survey will result in principles for development of all classes of ontologies

6 What has happened to the o word in informatics? 10 years ago, it was the term that would not speak its name 7 years ago, the Gene Ontology made the o word fashionable Suddenly, a thousand flowers are blooming, and everyone has his own ontology Ontology development has become a widespread cottage industry

7 An ontology is a specification of a conceptualization (T. Gruber) A conceptualization is the way we think about a domain A specification provides a formal way of writing it down

8 Creating ontologies has become a widespread cottage industry Professional Societies –MGED: Microarray Gene Expression Data Society –HUPO: Human Protein Organization Government –NCI Thesaurus –NIST: Process Specification Language Open Biological Ontologies –GO –Three dozen (and growing) other ontologies

9 Lots of ontology builders are not very good philosophers Nearly always, ontologies are created to address pressing professional needs The people who have the most insight into professional knowledge may have little appreciation for metaphysics, principles of knowledge representation, or computational logic There simply arent enough good philosophers to go around

10 Goals of Biomedical Ontologies to provide a classification of biomedical entities to summarize and annotate data to mediate among different social groups to mediate among different software components to simplify the engineering of complex software systems to provide a formal specification of biomedical knowledge

11 Classification of biomedical entities To classify is human … But biomedicine did not really get into the act until Linneaus and the advent of the ICD The classifications that drive much of health care do not describe natural kinds: LOINC, CPT, ICD, DSM Many classifications have huge societal implications –Premenstrual syndrome and Homosexuality as disorders in DSM –Menopause as a disease in ICD

12 Racial classifications under apartheid reflected biological truths Europeans Asiatics Persons of mixed race (coloureds) Bantus –Xhosa –Zulu –and six other groups …

13 Many classifications Enforce or preserve existing social conventions Are motivated because making particular distinctions is to the advantage of some social group Reinforce or even ceate a perceived reality by legitimizing certain distinctions

14 The Proliferation of Nursing Vocabularies International Classification of Nursing Practice (ICNP) Nursing Intervention Lexicon and Taxonomy The Omaha System: Nursing diagnoses, interventions, and clinical outcomes Nursing Interventions Classifications

15 Some classes from the Nursing Intervention Classification Cultural Brokerage –Bridging, negotiating, or linking the orthodox health carfe system with a patient and family of a different culture Spiritual support –Assisting the patient to feel balance and connection with a greater power Humor –Facilitating the patient to perceive, appreciate, and express what is funny, amusing, or ludicrous in order to establish relationships, relieve tension, release anger, facilitate learning, or cope with personal feelings

16 The ICD keeps doctors in business 724Unspecified disorders of the back 724.0Spinal stenosis, other than cervical Spinal stenosis, unspecified region Spinal stenosis, thoracic region Spinal stenosis, lumbar region Spinal stenosis, other 724.1Pain in thoracic spine 724.2Lumbago 724.3Sciatica 724.4Thoracic or lumbosacral neuritis 724.5Backache, unspecified 724.6Disorders of sacrum 724.7Disorders of coccyx Unspecified disorder of coccyx Hypermobility of coccyx Coccygodynia 724.8Other symptoms referable to back 724.9Other unspecified back disorders

17 Goals of Biomedical Ontologies to provide a classification of biomedical entities to summarize and annotate data to mediate among different social groups to mediate among different software components to simplify the engineering of complex software systems to provide a formal specification of biomedical knowledge

18 Summarization and annotation of data Biologists dont care about modeling reality beyond their data Biologists care about –Making sense of terabytes of data –Accessing and indexing data –Comparing data sets with one another The goal is to create annotations that make distinctions about the data, not about the world

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20 SOFG Anatomy Entry List (about half of 121 terms) SAEL:0 ; SAEL:1 tissue ; SAEL:2 gland ; SAEL:3 ; SAEL:4 canal ; SAEL:5 ; SAEL:6 ; SAEL:7 ; SAEL:8 vessel ; SAEL:9 ; SAEL:10 marrow ; SAEL:11 ; SAEL:12 ; SAEL:13 ; SAEL:14 ; SAEL:15 system ; SAEL:16 ; SAEL:17 ; SAEL:18 cortex ; SAEL:19 hemisphere ; SAEL:20 ; SAEL:21 ; SAEL:22 tissue ; SAEL:23 callosum ; SAEL:24 ; SAEL:25 endoderm ; SAEL:26 ; SAEL:27 system ; :118 SAEL:28 ; SAEL:29 root ganglion ; SAEL:30 ; SAEL:31 ; SAEL:32 system ; SAEL:33 ; SAEL:34 ; SAEL:35 ; SAEL:36 system ; SAEL:37 ear ; SAEL:38 structures ; SAEL:39 ; SAEL:40 ; SAEL:41 limb ; SAEL:42 ; SAEL:43 bladder ; SAEL:44 ; SAEL:45 ; SAEL:46 ; SAEL:47 system ; SAEL:48 limb ; SAEL:49 ; SAEL:50 ; SAEL:51 ; SAEL:52 ; SAEL:53 ear ; SAEL:54 ; SAEL:55 ;

21 Goals of Biomedical Ontologies to provide a classification of biomedical entities to summarize and annotate data to mediate among different social groups to mediate among different software components to simplify the engineering of complex software systems to provide a formal specification of biomedical knowledge

22 Meditation among different social groups We all know how ICD and CPT codes propagate from clinicians to helath-care organizations to payors to epidemiologists to policy makers Within institutions, ontologies provide the basis for getting our work done. –No coded lab test results, no treatment –No ICD code, no reimbursement

23 Goals of Biomedical Ontologies to provide a classification of biomedical entities to summarize and annotate data to mediate among different social groups to mediate among different software components to simplify the engineering of complex software systems to provide a formal specification of biomedical knowledge

24 Mediation among different software components HL7 Developed simply to get individual departmental information systems to talk to one another The implied ontology is one of messages, not of entities in the real world Builds on longstanding work on machine interoperability

25 An ontology for CAD/CAM: STEP Provides an international standard for interacting computer-aided design and manufacturing applications Defines over 1300 classes of objects, addressing areas such as –Geometry and topology –Product configuration –Form features –Tolerances

26 Sample STEP Class Definition ENTITY part_model SUBTYPE OF (design_model); nominal_shape:shape_model; model_units:units; part_features:OPTIONAL LIST (0:#) OF form_features; part_tolerances:OPTIONAL LIST (0:#) OF shape_tolerances; equivalents:OPTIONAL LIST (0:#) OF part_model_structure; WHERE NOT (part_model IN equivalents.model_element); END ENTITY;

27 Goals of Biomedical Ontologies to provide a classification of biomedical entities to summarize and annotate data to mediate among different social groups to mediate among different software components to simplify the engineering of complex software systems to provide a formal specification of biomedical knowledge

28 Engineering of complex software systems Object-oriented design and programming is well entrenched in current software- engineering practices OOP owes considerable legacy to frame systems developed in AI in the 1970s Ontologies are now (at least syntactically) at the core of advanced software engineering

29 Data Sources Data Regularization Middleware Epidemic Detection Problem Solvers Control Structure BioSTORM Data Flow Mapping Ontology Heterogeneous Input Data Semantically Uniform Data Customized Output Data Data BrokerData Mapper Data Source Ontology

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33 Goals of Biomedical Ontologies to provide a classification of biomedical entities to summarize and annotate data to mediate among different social groups to mediate among different software components to simplify the engineering of complex software systems to provide a formal specification of biomedical knowledge

34 Formal specification of biomedical knowledge In the information society, there will be increasing motivation for representing human knowledge in macheine-processable form Ontologies of professional knowledge are being seen as having value even for their own sake

35 The FMA in Protégé

36 Population Record Related to Contacts Interacts with Exposed to Has Exhibits Agents of Change Health States Findings Associated with Lead to Treat Alter Use Courses of Action Evaluate Reveal Identity Link to American Board of Family Practice Ontology of Clinical Care

37 Goals of Biomedical Ontologies to provide a classification of biomedical entities to summarize and annotate data to mediate among different social groups to mediate among different software components to simplify the engineering of complex software systems to provide a formal specification of biomedical knowledge

38 Theres good news and bad news Weve been incredibly successful: Everyone is building ontologies The ontologies that people are building –Model all kinds of realities –Make distinctions for a variety of political, social, engineering, and metaphysical reasons –Are of varying semantic quality and robustness –Are not going to go away easily

39 We have burgeoning opportunities to teach ontology developers about Principled knowledge-representation techniques Use of lexical corpora to inform ontology development Methods for validating ontology design Tools and methodologies to aid in the development process

40 We have to keep in mind Ontologies are build with purposes in mind These purposes reflect political, social, economic, and engineering goals that have little to do with metaphysics Making explicit these additional considerations will lead to purer and more useful ontologies at the risk of exposing issues that developers might rather leave buried

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42 Goals of Biomedical Ontologies to provide a classification of biomedical entities to summarize and annotate data to mediate among different social groups to mediate among different software components to simplify the engineering of complex software systems to provide a formal specification of biomedical knowledge


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