researching class relations

using spatial relations to describe geographical feature categories


How do you explain the difference between an alluvial forest and a normal wood?...

To express our understanding of categories of things we refer to the specific properties and relations of these things. For geographical features we often use common spatial relations or dependencies on objects of other categories. An alluvial forest, for example, is spatially contained by a floodplain, which is a distinguishing property to other forests. Class relations can be used to formally define such properties and dependencies of categories (e.g.[1][2][5][6]).

As part of my PhD thesis I developed the “semantic integrity constraint checker”, a little tool for the definition and reasoning on class relations. It enables to detect conflicts and redundancies in sets of class relations by analyzing the satisfiability of the defined constraints [3][4][8]. I hope it’s useful for somebody working with class relations or at least helpful to get a basic understanding of the topic. The implemented reasoning algorithms base on the converseness [3], composition [4], complements [9] and conceptual neighborhood / transitions [4] of class relations.

The tool is implemented as a tab widget plug-in for the Protégé ontology editor. It allows specifying spatial constraints for the classes defined in the Protégé knowledgebase. Due to deficiencies in expressiveness and reasoning capabilities the storage and reasoning on the constraints is separated from the Protégé knowledgebase.


Latest version: spatialSICSatisfiabilityCheckPlugin-1.1 released on 8th December 2011.
This manual helps to get started with it. Please note, the tool is a research prototype that might contain errors. I do not guarantee the correct working and cannot offer comprehensive support.
On request I also provide the actual version of the source.


Unzip the file into Protégé’s plugins directory.


The plug-in has been originally implemented for Protégé 3.3.1 and JDK 1.5; this combination should still work. Version 1.1 has been tested with Protégé-Frames 3.4.7 and JRE 1.7.0. Under Protégé-OWL 3.4.7 the search in the class panel is not working, everything else is doing well.

Related Literature

[1] Donnelly, M., Bittner, T. (2005): Spatial Relations Between Classes of Individuals. In: Cohn, A.G., Mark, D.M. (eds.), COSIT 2005. LNCS, vol. 3693, pp. 182–199, Springer

[2] Donnelly, M., Bittner, T., Rosse, C. (2006): A formal theory for spatial representation and reasoning in biomedical ontologies. Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, 36, 1, 1-27

[3] Mäs, S. (2007): Reasoning on Spatial Semantic Integrity Constraints. In: Winter, S. et al. (eds.) COSIT 2007. LNCS, vol. 4736, pp. 285–302

[4] Mäs, S. (2008): Reasoning on Spatial Relations between Entity Classes. In: T.J. Cova et al. (eds.), 5th International Conference Geographic Information Science (GIScience), Park City, Utah, USA; LNCS, vol. 5266, pp. 234–248

[5] Tarquini, F.; Clementini, E. (2008): Spatial Relations between Classes as Integrity Constraints. In: Transactions in GIS, Volume 12 Issue s1, 45 – 57

[6] Bittner, T.; Donnelly, M.; Smith, B. (2009): A spatio-temporal ontology for geographic information integration. In: International Journal of Geographical Information Science 23, 6, 765-798

[7] Mäs, S. (2009): Harmonisation of Spatial Semantic Integrity Constraints. AGILE 2009 Pre-Conference Workshop “Challenges in Geospatial Data Harmonisation”, Hannover, Germany

[8] Mäs, S. (2009): On the Consistency of Spatial Semantic Integrity Constraints. PhD thesis, University of the Bundeswehr, Munich

[9] Egenhofer, M. (2011). Reasoning with complements. In: De Troyer, O., el al. (eds.), Advances in Conceptual Modeling. Recent Developments and New Directions; ER 2011, volume 6999 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 261-270, Springer.

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