Reengineering Thesauri for New Applications: the AGROVOC Example

Dagobert Soergel, Boris Lauser, Anita Liang, Frehiwot Fisseha, Johannes Keizer, Stephen Katz

Abstract


Existing classification schemes and thesauri are lacking in well-defined semantics and structural consistency. Empowering end users in searching collections of ever increasing magnitudes with performance far exceeding plain free-text searching (as used in many Web search engines), and developing systems that not only find but also process information for action, requires far more powerful and complex knowledge organization systems (KOSs). The paper presents a conceptual structure and transition procedure to support the shift from a traditional KOS towards a full-fledged and semantically rich KOS. The proposed structure also complies with other interoperability approaches like RDFS and XML in the Web environment. AGROVOC, a traditional thesaurus developed and maintained by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, serves as a case study for exploring the reengineering of a traditional thesaurus into a fully-fledged ontology. We start the process of developing an inventory of specific relationship types with well-defined semantics for the agricultural domain and explore the rules-as-you-go approach to streamlining the reengineering process.

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