Basic formal ontology

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Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) is a top level ontology developed by Barry Smith and his associates for the purposes of promoting interoperability among domain ontologies that are built in its terms through a process of downward population.[1] The structure of BFO is based on a division of entities into two disjoint categories of continuant and occurrent, the former comprehending for example objects and spatial regions, the latter comprehending processes conceived as extended through (or as spanning) time. BFO thereby seeks to incorporate both three-dimensionalist and four-dimensionalist perspectives on reality within a single framework.


BFO has been adopted as a foundational ontology by over 300 ontology projects[2], principally in the areas of biomedical ontology and security and defense (intelligence) ontology.[1] An example application of BFO can be seen in the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) and in the Open Biomedical Ontologies Foundry

See also


  1. ^ a b "Home". Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Users". Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). Retrieved 10 September 2018.

Further reading

  • Arp, R., Smith, B., and Spear, A. D. Building Ontologies with Basic Formal Ontology, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, August 2015, xxiv + 220pp.
  • Thomas Bittner, Maureen Donnelly and Barry Smith, "A Spatio-Temporal Ontology for Geographic Information Integration", International Journal for Geographical Information Science, 23 (6), 2009, 765–798
  • Grenon, P. and Smith, B. (2004) “SNAP and SPAN: Towards Dynamic Spatial Ontology”, Spatial Cognition and Computation, 4:1, 69–103.
  • Ludger Jansen, "Tendencies and other Realizables in Medical Information Sciences"
  • Katherine Munn, Barry Smith (Eds.), Applied Ontology: An Introduction, Ontos Verlag.
  • Fabian Neuhaus, Pierre Grenon, Barry Smith, A Formal Theory of Substances, Qualities, and Universals
  • Luc Schneider, Revisiting the Ontological Square
  • Smith, B. and Grenon, P. (2004) “The Cornucopia of Formal-Ontological Relations", Dialectica, 58:3, 279–296.
  • Barry Smith, Werner Ceusters, Bert Klagges, Jacob Köhler, Anand Kumar, Jane Lomax, Chris Mungall, Fabian Neuhaus, Alan Rector and Cornelius Rosse: "Relations in Biomedical Ontologies", Genome Biology (2005), 6 (5), R46
  • Smith, B. and Ceusters, W. (2010) "Ontological Realism as a Methodology for Coordinated Evolution of Scientific Ontologies"[permanent dead link], Applied Ontology, 5 (2010), 139–188.

External links

  • Basic Formal Ontology (BFO)
  • Basic Formal Ontology 2.0
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