Ontology and Geographic Kinds

Ontology and Geographic Kinds - - Proceedings,...

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Sheet1 Page 1 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Proceedings, International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling (SDH'98), Vancouver, Canada, 12-15 July, 1998, pp. 308-320. Ontology and Geographic Kinds Barry Smith[1] <SDH98_fn.html#fn0> and David M. Mark[2] <SDH98_fn.html#fn0> National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis and Center for Cognitive Science University at Buffalo Buffalo, New York, 14261 U.S.A. *Abstract* An ontology of geographic kinds is designed to yield a better understanding of the structure of the geographic world, and to support the development of geographic information systems that are conceptually sound. This paper first demonstrates that geographical objects and kinds are not just larger versions of the everyday objects and kinds previously studied in cognitive science. Geographic objects are not merely located in space, as are the manipulable objects of table-top space. Rather, they are tied intrinsically to space, and this means that their spatial boundaries are in many cases the most salient features for categorization. The ontology presented here will accordingly be based on topology (the theory of boundary, contact and separation) and on mereology (the theory of extended wholes and parts). Geographic reality comprehends /mesoscopic/ entities, many of which are best viewed as shadows cast onto the spatial plane by human reasoning and language. Because of this, geographic categories are much more likely to show cultural differences in category definitions than are the manipulable objects of table-top space. Keywords: ontology, mereology, geographic kinds, entity types, GIS 1 Introduction Ontology deals with the nature of being. Communication requires a sharing of ontology between the communicating parties. The formal description of ontology is thus essential to data exchange standards, and to the design of human-computer interfaces. In this paper, we describe some fundamentals of the ontology of geographic space and of the objects and phenomena of geographic space. 1.1 Why Construct an Ontology? An ontology of geographic kinds, of the categories or entity types in the domain of geographic objects, is designed to yield a better understanding of the structure of the geographic world. The results can be of practical importance in at least the following ways:
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Sheet1 Page 2 First, understanding the ontology of geographic kinds can help us to understand how different groups of humans, for example different armies in a multinational coalition in time of war, exchange, or fail to exchange, geographic information. Second, understanding the ontology of geographic kinds can help us to understand certain characteristic types of distortions that are involved in our cognitive relations to geographic phenomena. Above all, there are tendencies in the conceptualization of geopolitical entities that underlie certain forms of territorially based conflict. Third, geographic information systems need to manipulate representations
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This note was uploaded on 10/05/2010 for the course GEO 591 taught by Professor Davidm.mark during the Fall '10 term at SUNY Buffalo.

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Ontology and Geographic Kinds - - Proceedings,...

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