Building a Large Knowledge Base Semi-Automatically

Udo Hahn, Freiburg University, Germany and Stefan Schulz, Freiburg University Hospital, Germany

We describe a knowledge-engineering approach by which conceptual knowledge is extracted from an informal, semantically weak medical thesaurus (UMLS) and automatically converted into a formally sound description logics system. Our approach consists of four steps: concept definitions are automatically generated from the UMLS source, integrity checking of taxonomic and partonomic hierarchies is performed by the terminological classifier, cycles and inconsistencies are eliminated, and incremental refinement of the evolving knowledge base is performed by a domain expert. We report on experiments with a terminological knowledge base composed of 164,000 concepts and 76,000 relations.


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