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by earl, 6146 days ago
"An ontology is a specification of a conceptualization."
-- Tom Gruber, What is an Ontology?

"In philosophy, ontology, the most fundamental branch of metaphysics, is the study of being or existence as well as the basic categories thereof."
-- Wikipedia: Ontology

"A domain of discourse for describing some reality. A set of concepts, the attributes of those concepts, and the relationships among concepts that characterise a given [..] area"
-- Van Bemmel and Musen, 1997

A concept heavily used (and debated) in [create KM] and AI research. For an overview of the theoretical foundations, of how to build, maintain and evaluate ontologies, of ontology tools and specification languages and of applications of ontologies I suggest having a look at the OntoWeb Technical Roadmap (read Roadmap as in "Review").

See also the excellent article "What are the differences between a vocabulary, a taxonomy, a thesaurus, an ontology, and a meta-model?" by Woody Pidcock and Michael Uschold.
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