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Relativity of Explicit Conceptual Models



David W. Flater


Explicit conceptual models are supposed to capture knowledge of lasting value in a reusable form. Reuse of explicit conceptual models is hampered by arbitrary and application-specific constraints; any constraints that conflict with a new application must be altered or removed before the models can be reused. This paper explores seven facets of relativity in explicit conceptual models using Formal Concept Analysis, demonstrating first that the capture of application-specific constraints is inextricable from the modelling process, and second that the semantic differences between models built for different applications can themselves be modelled formally in most cases. By analyzing those differences, one can determine whether the applications themselves are sufficiently compatible at the conceptual level to enable integration.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7148
Report Number


concept, conceptual model, integration, modelling, ontology, reuse, semantics


Flater, D. (2004), Relativity of Explicit Conceptual Models, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created August 1, 2004, Updated November 10, 2018