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Educational Series on Applied Ontology (ESAO)

IAOA is currently setting up a new educational effort under the name Educational Series on Applied Ontology (ESAO) that shall be suited for learning about topics of Applied Ontology, primarily established basics and foundations. The series is inspired by the Interdisciplinary Schools on Applied Ontology (ISAO), but - in times of the Corona pandemic - it is complementary in format and its overall approach.

ESAO is being planned as a long-term effort. It was prominently started with a launch event in hybrid format on Sep 10, 2021 (Fri), preceding FOIS 2021 (Sep 13-16) in Bozen-Bolzano, Italy. Likewise the ESAO Launch Day was part of the second Bolzano Summer of Knowledge (BoSK 2021).

Key Idea

The key idea of ESAO is a combination of (1) an archive of educational material and (2) a webinar series for presentation and exchange on that material.

For (1), we aim at creating an archive of short (10-20 min), self-contained units of educational material (videos, web-, screen- and podcasts, a.o.) that is available to be streamed on demand. Any such unit can originate from recording a live session, but likewise it can be produced in any other suitable way. The purpose is the material as such and making it accessible.

Concerning (2), an accompanying webinar series shall present the material and allow for personal interaction about its topics in a variety of formats, e.g. as live presentation with subsequent discussion, as question and answer sessions or panel discussions on a few units together for further digestion (then expected to have been “consumed” already), as well as further formats may be proposed.

We look forward to everyone interested and invite you to join the webinars!

8th ESAO Special Session on June 12th, 2023

June 2023 brings a special ESAO session with James Hampton (London, UK)

When and how to connect


10:00-11:15 EDT / 14:00-15:15 UTC / 16:00-17:15 / 16:00-17:15 SAST (50 min talk + discussion)

James Hampton (City, University of London, UK)  
The psychology and philosophy of concept combination
Abstract: I will review a wider range of research into the problem of how prototype concepts combine. When nouns are placed in a noun-noun compound, (e.g. CRIMINAL LAWYER) different strategies can be used in English to arrive at a semantic interpretation. I will discuss some of the processes involved, and the effects of stress. The second part of my talk will examine how people interpret logical connectives when applied to vague semantic categories such as Vehicle or Fruit. Finally I will present some new data looking at how people judge a conjunction of two vague predicates, as in "These sunglasses are large and dark" where both size and shade of a set of sunglasses are distributed around a vague boundary.

7th ESAO Webinar on May 10, 2023

May 2023 brings about the seventh of the regular webinar sessions.

When and how to connect


  • 10:00-10:30 EST / 14:00-14:30 UTC / 16:00-16:30 CET / 16:00-16:30 SAST
Enrico Franconi (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano) and Daniele Porello (University of Genoa)  
Pros and cons of DLs for applied ontologists

6th ESAO Webinar on Feb 14, 2023

February 2023 brings about the sixth of the regular webinar sessions.

When and how to connect


  • 10:00-10:30 EST / 15:00-15:30 UTC / 16:00-16:30 CET / 17:00-17:30 SAST
Patrick Koopmann (Dresden): DL & Semantic Web,  
Using Abduction to Explain Missing Entailments in OWL Ontologies
Abstract: With increasing complexity, understanding and debugging ontologies becomes a challenging task without the appropriate tool support. In particular, inferences performed by a reasoner may not always be straight-forward, meaning they may produce entailments that we did not expect, or fail to produce entailments that we did expect. While there are different techniques to explain entailments, this talk focusses on the problem of explaining why something does not follow from the ontology. In particular, we explain how abduction may be used towards solving this issue, and discuss challenges and solutions for performing abduction in practice.
Slides: PDF (ca. 2.0 MB) [tentative link]

5th ESAO Webinar on Dec 14, 2022

December 2022 brings about the fifth of the regular webinar sessions.

When and how to connect


  • 10:00 EST / 16:00 CET
Nathalie Aussenac-Gilles,   Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse and CNRS, Toulouse, France
From Semantic metadata to an ontology-based legal decision support system for data sharing
Abstract: With the increasing availability of open datasets, data sharing becomes an evidence, in particular in the research domain. The FAIR principles have provided some guidelines to facilitate data sharing. They strongly recommend the use of semantic, machine processable and standard metatada. Nevertheless, these metadata are not sufficient to check if the data sharing is compatible with data sharing regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), other regulations about AI-based data analysis, or even the anticipation of inappropriate reuses of data. In the first part of my talk I will illustrate the advantages and limitations of semantic metadata. Then I will expose a research line based on collaborations with lawyers to design a rule-based and ontology-based support system that could guide data producers in their decision to share data according tho regulations and preferences.
Slides: available here

4th ESAO Webinar on Oct 18, 2022

October 2022 brings about the fourth of the regular webinar sessions.

When and how to connect


  • 10:00 EDT / 16:00 CEST
Clement Jonquet,   French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics for Environment and Agronomy research unit, Montpellier, France
O'FAIRe: Ontology FAIRness Evaluator in the AgroPortal semantic resource repository
Abstract:O’FAIRe, the Ontology FAIRness Evaluator, is a methodology to automatically assess to which level a semantic resource or ontology respects the FAIR Principles. This talk will present the online tool implementing O’FAIRe within the AgroPortal ontology repository, through 61 questions/tests, among 80% are based on the ontology metadata description. For a specific ontology or a group of semantic resources, O’FAIRe web service outputs both global and detailed scores (normalized) against the 15 FAIR Principles. O’FAIRe results are visualized and explained with new specific user-friendly interfaces (such as the FAIRness wheel) in order to help AgroPortal users improve the FAIRness of their resources. O’FAIRe is currently implemented in three different public ontology repositories as they offer the required metadata descriptions. In the future, we will deploy the service in other OntoPortal repositories.
Slides: Slides[tentative link]

3rd ESAO Webinar on Sep 20, 2022

September 2022 brings about the third of the regular webinar sessions.

When and how to connect


  • 10:00 EDT / 16:00 CEST
Torsten Hahmann,   School of Computing and Information Science, University of Maine
Where am I? Spatial knowledge in ontologies
Abstract: Many of the things we describe in ontologies are objects or processes located in physical space. Examples of questions with a location or other spatial component include: Where is the start of the trail? What is the address I need to go to? Where again did I put my keys? How large is the property? Where is the conference happening? Where did you see the whale? To capture such spatial information, ontologies provide a variety of mechanism that range from vague, qualitative descriptions (e.g. "after the bridge", "on my desk", "in the Gulf of Maine"), to more precise locations ("947 Broadway", "Sherbrooke (QC)") or even quantitative description ("1km East from here", "400 sq m"). This talk will take the listener through different ways that are available to describe space and locations that range from concepts provided by top-level ontologies to more specialized spatial and geospatial ontologies for the Semantic Web.
Slides: PDF (ca. 2.2 MB) [tentative link]
  • 10:30 EDT / 16:30 CEST
Janna Hastings,   School of Medicine, University of St. Gallen, and the Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care, University of Zurich
The role of ontologies in data science in support of discovery research
Abstract: Data science encompasses a wide range of methods which aim to interpret and extract meaning, and new knowledge, from data. For data-driven discovery research, the quality and suitability of the statistical approaches are usually the focus of efforts to derive new knowledge, while ontologies are assumed to be relevant mainly for purposes of standardisation and exchange of existing knowledge, i.e. subsequent to the discovery process. In this presentation, I will discuss the role of ontologies and other pre-existing formal representations of knowledge in the science of making new discoveries from data, why this role is often overlooked, and how this might change as the science of the future becomes better integrated between humans and machines. I will illustrate with some examples taken from different domains: metabolism and behaviour.
Slides: PDF (ca. 2.5 MB) [tentative link]

2nd ESAO Webinar on Jul 19, 2022

July 2022 brings about the second of the regular webinar sessions.

When and how to connect


  • 10:00 EDT / 16:00 CEST
Roberta Ferrario,   Institute for Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the CNR (ISTC-CNR), Laboratory for Applied Ontology (LOA), Trento, Italy
The theory of variable embodiment and the modeling of organisational change
Abstract: How can organisations survive not only the substitution of members, but also other dramatic changes, like that of the norms regulating their activities, the goals they plan to achieve, or the system of roles that compose them? These are some of the classical questions an ontology of organisations should be able to answer. I will briefly present Kit Fine’s notions of rigid and variable embodiment and propose an integration aimed at addressing the issue of re-identification of organisations through change.
  • 10:30 EDT / 16:30 CEST
Paweł Garbacz,   John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland
Applied ontologies as evolving artefacts. Why and how should you take care of managing ontology development?
Abstract: If you think of an applied ontology as a dynamic informational artefact that is being developed over time, then you might want to consider a framework which would allow you to track the history of its lifecycle, test the changes it undergoes, and control its quality. These challenges are similar to challenges faced in bog-standard software development. In my presentation, I will show how the well-known software tools, including Continuous Integration platforms, version control systems, testing platforms, and review workflows, may address these challenges.

1st ESAO Webinar on Nov 9, 2021

After the ESAO Launch Day, the first of the regular webinar sessions is held on November 9th.


  • 11:00 EST / 17:00 CET
Adrien Barton,   Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse (IRIT) - CNRS, France
Ontological realism: A philosophical overview
Abstract: Some applied ontologies explicitly adhere to a position named “ontological realism”. In this presentation, I will locate “ontological realism” within the landscape of the various forms of realism that have been proposed in metaphysics and philosophy of science, among which there are Platonic realism, Aristotelian realism, scientific realism, entity realism and structural realism.
Slides: PDF (ca. 3.3 MB) [tentative link]
  • 11:30 EST / 17:30 CET
Lars Vogt,   Leibniz Information Center for Science & Technology (TIB), Germany
Boundaries and natural units
Abstract: I will present the concept of bona fide and fiat boundaries and review the problems involved with this approach for demarcating natural units, with examples from the life sciences, focussing on issues revolving around granularity and frames of reference. I will then introduce an alternative approach that focusses on the concept of causal unity.
Slides: PDF (ca. 6.3 MB) [tentative link]


  • mini survey: Google Form (4 questions)     open until Wed, Nov 10 (anywhere)

ESAO Launch Day on Sep 10, 2021

The new series was launched with an agglomeration of webinar sessions, most of which demonstrate the intended format of short tutorials followed by discussion. This was bordered by a short introduction and a bar camp session at the end.

While information on the Launch Day will be archived in this wiki at a later point, for the time being there is an ESAO Launch Day website that offers detailed information at the state of Sep 10, 2021. If you are interested, please move on to

As of November 2021, we continue to work on archiving the Launch Day sessions and making them accessible through this wiki. Please stay tuned and return here in a few weeks.