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Last modified: November 25, 2000
Information Flow Framework Language (IFF)

[November 25, 2000] "(Based upon OML/CKML) a new markup language called the Information Flow Framework (IFF) is being designed. It is founded upon the principles and techniques of Information Flow and Formal Concept Analysis, which incorporates aspects (classification, theories, logics, terminologies) from OML/CKML, OIL and RDF/S. The restriction of terminology specifications from first order ontological languages to description logics is included in IFF."

"Associated with the Information Flow Framework is a markup language (XML application) of the same name. The markup language IFF incorporates ideas from other knowledge representation languages such as RDF/S, OKBC, OIL, CGIF and CycL. IFF has a principled model-theoretic foundation, based upon the logic of Information Flow and expressed in terms of category theory. IFF is the sequel to the markup language pair OML/CKML."

"The Information Flow Framework (IFF) is an effort to develop Information Flow: the logic of distributed systems. The Information Flow Framework celebrates the notion of a community. The standards of a community, encoded in the types and constraints of a community ontology, represent consensual agreement within that community. The global standards of a collection of cooperating communities, encoded in the types and constraints of a common generic extensible ontology, represent the consensual agreement across communities -- a standard semantics. Community ontologies, the links between such ontologies, and the resulting virtual fusion ontologies, can all be represented with the Information Flow Framework."


  • IFF web site

  • Overview

  • Abbreviated Syntax - "The abbreviated syntax includes additional syntactic constructs that perhaps provide a more convenient and compact form to represent a subset of the data model. IFF interpreters are expected to implement both the standard serialization syntax and the abbreviated syntax. Consequently, ontology authors are free to mix the two. While the standard serialization syntax shows the structure of an IFF model most clearly, often it is desirable to use a more compact XML form. The IFF abbreviated syntax accomplishes this. As a further benefit, the abbreviated syntax allows descriptions obeying certain well-structured XML DTDs to be directly interpreted as IFF models for special ontologies."

  • Mathematical Connections. "Here we overview some categorical structure for the Information Flow Framework, and we briefly connect components of Onto Logic and Information Flow."

  • Correspondences for Language and Model (IFF, Mathematics). "This page establishes the Information Flow representation by giving correspondences between the IFF language and the mathematics behind the Information Flow Framework."

  • Architecture - Component Relationships and Requirements

  • CycL and IFF. "CycL and IFF have a lot in common. Although CycL is more well-established. IFF is founded upon a rigorous categorical model theory. Here we gives correspondences between the basic notions and relations of CycL and IFF.

  • The IFF Language

  • "Representing XML Schema in IFF." - "We illustrate how to represent XML schemas in IFF with an example from a article by Norman Walsh concerned with purchase orders. Even with this simple example, we see the problem for a framework that intends to model both document structure and abstract object semantics. This is closely related to the data modeling problems of the RDF and XML Schema working groups, and also to the desire of Tim Berners-Lee in moving from web document models to the 'Semantic Web', expressed in his Web Architecture note, to merge the tree and labeled directed graph data models. In contrast, IFF is explicitly oriented towards the representation of abstract semantics. Document structure comes out of this as a small by-product. Although XML Schema may regard the notion of a purchase order as a document type, IFF would truly regard the purchase order notion as an abstract object type. We can represent all features of XML Schema in IFF. Unfortunately (for XML Schema) the converse is not the case -- we cannot represent all IFF features in the XML Schema language (although we can represent the unabbreviated form of IFF in an XML schema). The most glaring omission in the XML Schema language is the lack of a general form of constraint representation, other than subtyping. In IFF we have three general forms of constraints: the sequents from Information Flow, the expressions from the Calculus of Binary Relations, and the general assertions corresponding to Conceptual Graphs..."

  • "The Information Flow Foundation for Conceptual Knowledge Organization." By Robert E. Kent. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference of the International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO). Toronto, Canada, 10-13 July 2000. "The sharing of ontologies between diverse communities of discourse allows them to compare their own information structures with that of other communities that share a common terminology and semantics -- ontology sharing facilitates interoperability between online knowledge organizations. This paper demonstrates how ontology sharing is formalizable within the conceptual knowledge model of Information Flow (IF) (Barwise and Seligman, 1997). Information Flow indirectly represents sharing through a specifiable, ontology extension hierarchy augmented with synonymic type equivalencing -- two ontologies share terminology and meaning through a common generic ontology that each extends. Using the paradigm of participant community ontologies formalized as IF logics, a common shared extensible ontology formalized as an IF theory, participant community specification links from the common ontology to the participating community ontology formalizable as IF theory interpretations, this paper argues that ontology sharing is concentrated in a virtual ontology of community connections, and demonstrates how this virtual ontology is computable as the fusion of the participant ontologies -- the quotient of the sum of the participant ontologies modulo the ontological sharing structure... According to the theory of information flow, information presupposes a system of classification. Classifications have been important in library science for the last 2,000 years. The library science classification system most in accord with the philosophy and techniques of Information Flow is the Colon classification system invented by the library scientist Ranganathan."

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