Skip to main content Accessibility help

A methodology for engineering ontology acquisition and validation

  • Zhanjun Li (a1), Maria C. Yang (a2) and Karthik Ramani (a3)


When engineering content is created and applied during the product life cycle, it is often stored and forgotten. Current information retrieval approaches based on statistical methods and keyword matching are not effective in understanding the context of engineering content. They are not designed to be directly applicable to the engineering domain. Therefore, engineers have very limited means to harness and reuse past designs. The overall objective of our research is to develop an engineering ontology (EO)-based computational framework to structure unstructured engineering documents and achieve more effective information retrieval. This paper focuses on the method and process to acquire and validate the EO. The main contributions include a new, systematic, and more structured ontology development method assisted by a semiautomatic acquisition tool. This tool is integrated with Protégé ontology editing environment; an engineering lexicon (EL) that represents the associated lexical knowledge of the EO to bridge the gap between the concept space of the ontology and the word space of engineering documents and queries; the first large-scale EO and EL acquired from established knowledge resources for engineering information retrieval; and a comprehensive validation strategy and its implementations to justify the quality of the acquired EO. A search system based on the EO and EL has been developed and tested. The retrieval performance test further justifies the effectiveness of the EO and EL as well as the ontology development method.



Hide All
Ahmed, S., Kim, S., & Wallace, K.M. (2007). A methodology for creating ontologies for engineering design. ASME Journal of Computer and Information Science in Engineering 7(2), 132140.
Baya, V., Gevins, J., Baudin, C., Mabogunje, A., Leifer, L., & Toye, G. (1992). An experimental study of design information reuse. Proc. 4th ASME/DTM Conf., pp. 141147.
Borst, P., & Akkermans, H. (1997). Engineering ontologies. International Journal of Human–Computer Studies 46, 365406.
Brooke, D.V., Pennington, A.D., & Bloor, M.S. (1995). An ontology for engineering analysis. Engineering with Computers 11(1), 3645.
Ciocoiu, M., Nau, D.S., & Gruninger, M. (2001). Ontologies for integrating engineering applications. ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering 1(1), 1222.
Court, A.W., Ullman, D.G., & Culley, S.J. (1998). A comparison between the provision of information to engineering designers in the UK and the USA. International Journal Information Management 18(6), 409425.
Dong, A., & Agogino, A.M. (1996). Text analysis for constructing design representations. Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Engineering 11, 6575.
Fernández-López, M., Gómez-Pérez, A., & Sierra, J.P. (1999). Building a chemical ontology using METHONTOLOGY and the ontology design environment. IEEE Intelligent Systems 14(1), 3746.
Gruber, T.R., & Olsen, G.R. (1994). An ontology for engineering mathematics. 4th Int. Conf. Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, Bonn, Germany.
Gruber, T. (1995). Towards principles for the design of ontologies used for knowledge sharing. International Journal of Human–Computer Studies 43(5–6), 907928.
Grüninger, M., & Fox, M.S. (1995). Methodology for the design and evaluation of ontologies. Proc. Int. Joint Conf. AI Workshop on Basic Ontological Issues in Knowledge Sharing, Montreal.
Grüninger, M., & Menzel, C. (2003). The process specification language (PSL) theory and applications. AI Magazine 24(3), 6374.
Hertzum, M., & Pejtersen, A.M. (2000). The information-seeking practices of engineers: searching for document as well as for people. Journal of Information Processing and Management 36(5), 761778.
Hirtz, J., Stone, R., McAdams, D., Szykman, S., & Wood, K. (2002). A functional basis for engineering design: reconciling and evolving previous efforts. Research in Engineering Design 13(2), 6582.
Iyer, N., Lou, K., Jayanti, S., Kalyanaraman, Y., & Ramani, K. (2005). Shape-based searching for product lifecycle applications. Journal of Computer-Aided Design 37, 14351446.
Jiang, J.J., & Conrath, D.W. (1997). Semantic similarity based on corpus statistics and lexical taxonomy. Proc. Int. Conf. Research on Computational Linguistics (ROCLING X), Taiwan.
Kim, J., Will, P., Ling, S.R., & Neches, B. (2003). Knowledge-rich catalog services for engineering design. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 17(4), 349366.
Kitamura, Y., & Mizoguchi, R. (2004). Ontology-based systemization of functional knowledge. Engineering Design 15(4), 327351.
Kuffner, T.A., & Ullman, D.G. (1991). The information request of mechanical design engineers. Design Studies 12(1), 4250.
Lenat, D.B., & Guha, R.V. (1990). Building Large Knowledge-Based Systems: Representation and Inference in the Cyc Project. Boston: Addison–Wesley.
Li, Z., & Ramani, K. (2007). Ontology-based design information extraction and retrieval. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 21(2), 137154.
Li, Z., Raskin, V., & Ramani, K. (2008). Developing engineering ontology for information retrieval. ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering 8(1), 2133.
Lin, J., & Demner-Fushman, D. (2006). The role of knowledge in conceptual retrieval: a study in the domain of clinical medicine. Proc. ACM SIGIR'06, pp. 99106.
Lin, J., Fox, M.S., & Bilgic, T. (1996). A requirement ontology for engineering design. Concurrent Engineering 4(3), 279291.
Lohse, N., Hitendra, H., & Svetan, R. (2006). Equipment ontology for modular reconfigurable assembly systems. International Journal of Flexible Manufacturing Systems 17(4), 301314.
Lowe, A., McMahon, C., Shah, T., & Culley, S. (2000). An analysis of the content of technical information used by engineering designers. Proc. ASME/DET Conf., Baltimore, MD.
Mayfield, J. (2002). Ontologies and text retrieval. The Knowledge Engineering Review 17(1), 7175.
McMahon, C.A., Lowe, A., Culley, S.J., Corderoy, M., Crossland, R., Shah, T., & Stewart, D. (2004). Waypoint: an integrated search and retrieval system for engineering documents. ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering 4(4), 329338.
Nanda, J., Simpson, T.W., Kumara, S.R.T., & Shooter, S.B. (2006). A methodology for product family ontology development using formal concept analysis and web ontology language. ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering 6(2), 111.
Nirenburg, S., & Raskin, V. (2004). Ontological Semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Noy, N.F., & McGuinness, D.L. (2001). Ontology Development 101: A Guide to Creating Your First Ontology. Tech. Rep. KSL-01-05 and SMI-2001-0800. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Knowledge Systems Laboratory and Stanford Medical Informatics.
Patil, L., Dutta, D., & Sriram, R. (2005 a). Ontology formalization of product semantics for product lifecycle management. Proc. ASME/IDETC CIE Conf., Long Beach, CA.
Patil, L., Dutta, D., & Sriram, R. (2005 b). Ontology-based exchange of product data semantics. IEEE Trans. On Automation Science and Engineering 2(3), 213225.
Pugh, S. (1997). Total Design: Integrated Methods for Successful Product Engineering. Wokingham, MA: Addison–Wesley.
Resnik, P. (1999). Semantic similarity in a taxonomy: an information-based measure and its application to problems of ambiguity and natural language. Artificial Intelligence Research 11, 95139.
Salton, G. (1989). Automatic Text Processing. Wokingham, MA: Addison–Wesley.
Schlenoff, C., Denno, E., Ivester, R., Libes, D., & Szykman, S. (2000). An analysis and approach to using existing ontological systems for applications in manufacturing. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 14(4), 257270.
Shamsfard, M., & Barforoush, A.A. (2004). Learning ontologies from natural language texts. International Journal of Human–Computer Studies 60, 1763.
Sim, S.K., & Duffy, A.H.B. (2003). Towards an ontology of generic engineering design activities. Research in Engineering Design 14(4), 200223.
Sudarsan, R., Fenves, S.J., Sriram, R.D., & Wang, F. (2005). A product information modeling framework for product lifecycle management. Journal of Computer-Aided Design 37(13), 13991411.
Ullman, D.G. (2001). The Mechanical Design Process. New York: McGraw–Hill.
Uschold, M., & Grüninger, M. (2004). Ontologies and semantics for seamless connectivity. SIGMOD Record 33(4), 5864.
Uschold, M., & King, M. (1995). Towards a methodology for building ontologies. IJCAI95 Workshop on Basic Ontological Issues in Knowledge Sharing, Montreal.
Witherell, P., Krishnamurty, S., & Grosse, I.R. (2007). Ontologies for supporting engineering design optimization. ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering 7(2), 141150.
Yang, M.C., Wood, W.H., & Cutkosky, M.R. (2005). Design information retrieval: a thesauri-based approach for reuse of informal design information. Engineering with Computers 21(2), 177192.


A methodology for engineering ontology acquisition and validation

  • Zhanjun Li (a1), Maria C. Yang (a2) and Karthik Ramani (a3)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed