Partonomic Reasoning as Taxonomic Reasoning in Medicine

Udo Hahn, Freiburg University; Stefan Schulz and Martin Romacker, Freiburg University and Freiburg University Hospital

The development of powerful, ubiquitous and comprehensive medical ontologies that support formal reasoning on a large scale is one of the key requirements for advanced clinical computing. Taxonomic medical knowledge, a major portion of these ontologies, is fundamentally characterized by is-a and part-whole relationships between concepts. While reasoning in generalization hierarchies is a well-understood process, no fully conclusive mechanism as yet exists for partonomic reasoning. We here propose a new representation construct for part-whole relations based on the formal framework of description logics, i.e., the well-known concept language ALC, and show how part-whole reasoning can naturally be emulated via classification-based reasoning without extending the expressiveness of the underlying terminological system.

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