Abstract: This work begins with an assumption that a universal ontology is too difficult for humans to define once and for all: however, it may be possible for such an ontology to evolve in the marketplace, provided the underlying data-structure is flexible enough to permit such evolution.
In traditional ontologies, classes of objects have to be defined before individual objects can be modelled as part of those classes. In traditional databases, schemata have to be chosen for entire tables of data objects before information can be represented. Both approaches can be used to build stable closed systems, but it is very difficult make two systems with different schemata interoperable.
This paper describes an alternative, whereby all systems for data representation use a common currency of underlying data-objects called u-forms. A u-form is simply a bundle of attribute-value pairs indexed by a universally unique identifier. Any attribute can be added to a u-form at any time, so there are no fixed schemata. Instead, schemata are added by giving relations to role u-forms. A role is simply another u-form which defines a local attribute namespace. In this way, authors of information can state the intended interpretation of attributes, without compromising the system’s fundamental ability to cope with any attributes and values.Download File: Download PDF (2MB)