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Ontological characterization of functions: Perspectives for capturing functions and modeling guidelines

  • Yoshinobu Kitamura (a1) and Riichiro Mizoguchi (a2)


The authors have been involved in ontological modeling of function for over 15 years. As an instance of the revisionary approach discussed in Vermaas's position paper, we have proposed an ontological definition of function and a modeling framework based on it, which has been deployed in industry. In addition, as an instance of the overarching approach, we have proposed a reference ontology of function that explains some kinds, definitions, and practical expressions of functions. In this paper, we explain our methodology in an overarching approach based on perspectives for capturing functions. When one captures a function of an artifact, one focuses on a specific aspect of the artifact from a specific perspective. In this paper, we conceptualize such perspectives behind the reference ontology. In addition, based on our experiences in deployment in an industrial setting, we report some solutions, such as ontological modeling guidelines, for overcoming some of the difficulties faced in the practical functional modeling approach described in Eckert's position paper. Our findings suggest that such solutions will help engineers to describe consistent functional models compliant with a single definition of function.


Corresponding author

Reprint requests to: Yoshinobu Kitamura, 8-1 Mihogaoka, Ibaraki, Osaka, 567-0047, Japan. E-mail:


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