Selja Seppälä, Barry Smith and Werner Ceusters, 2014, “Applying the Realism-Based Ontology-Versioning Method for Tracking Changes in the Basic Formal Ontology”, Formal Ontology in Information Systems. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference (FOIS 2014), Amsterdam: IOS Press, 227-240.
Changes in an upper level ontology have obvious consequences for the domain ontologies that use it at lower levels. It is therefore crucial to document the changes made between successive versions of ontologies of this kind. We describe and apply a method for tracking, explaining and measuring changes between successive versions of upper level ontologies such as the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). The proposed change-tracking method extends earlier work on Realism- Based Ontology Versioning (RBOV) and Evolutionary Terminology Auditing (ETA). We describe here the application of this evaluation method to changes between BFO 1.0, BFO 1.1, and BFO 2.0. We discuss the issues raised by this application and describe the extensions which we added to the original evaluation schema in order to account for changes in this type of ontology. The results of our study show that BFO has undergone eight types of changes that can be systematically explained by the extended evaluation schema. Finally, we discuss problematic cases, possible pitfalls and certain limits of our study that we propose to address in future work.