Post-hackathon ontology group #ontology #followup

Elias Sebastian Azzi

Hej allihop,

I guess all of us have an outline in mind for the ontology-related paper. Here is what I have in mind; I guess we can build on it, iterate and agree on a suitable structure and contents.
Not sure if is the best way to keep track of edits in the long run; not sure that suits everyone either; GitHub would be public; we use internally.


§ Paragraph IE

IE's object of study is SEM.

The accounting of social, environmental and economic flows in time and space.

Many fields of sustainability and decision-making towards sustainability rely on such accounting.

Several approaches can exist: MFA / LCA / IOA; but all share the same structure; despite different vocabularies/inconsistencies (ref).

Call to lift up IE methods: Reference to Pauliuk

Call to generalise: Bo, 2018



§ Paragraph CS

  • Ontology definition
  • Linked Data, Web of Data, background, e.g. in life sciences and what it has enabled
  • Open-source


§ IE and CS

Acknowledge previous efforts: LCA ontologies existing, IE GitHub repo open source,…

Still, as of today:

  • Conventional databases, ecoinvent; exiobase, have not yet made the move towards these flexible data structures.
  • Remains a challenge to have interoperability between databases
  • Validation of databases
  • Transparency of assumptions (constructs / system model)
  • Updates of databases


§ Bonsai organisation, strech goals, hackhathon

  • BONSAI organisation / Working rules / BEP process
  • Strech goals; highlight the sub-goal of the ontology group
  • Hackhathon, background info


§ Paper's aim

  • Describe the ontology developed, providing examples and possible extensions
  • Report on BEP process, main choices, alternatives left out + reproducability


§ Outline plan of article

[not sure an IMRaD structure is best suited, maybe better to have numbered section]

Section 2 = BEP process, rules, principles

Section 3 = Ontology description (link to online documentation)

Section 4 = Examples (unlinked, linked)

Section 5 = Advanced example, ideally with actual URIs, online;

Section 6 = Discussion of key choices, extensions per field, future enhancements, validation of rdfs

Section 7 = Conclusions, link to other working groups (e.g. correspondance tables, rdf triplestore)


SECTION 2  BEP process, rules, principles

Rules for agreeing; definition; BEPs


  • Minimalist principle: core; complementary ontologies for different fields; extensions upcoming
  • On the distinction between A and B; for IA: atmospjhere as a process


SECTION 3 Ontology description

Table: 3 columns: Key vocabulary in the ontology; labels as in ontology; other usual names given in different fields (LCA, MFA, IOA, LCC, etc)


Figure: online viz of rdfs


§ Text description of:

  • Classes
  • Sub-classes
  • Properties, balanceable properties, …
  • Sub activities: market, transport, …


§ External ontologies

  • Measure, location,…


§ To add:

  • Uncertainty, …




§ Current hosting of the ontology; examples are available at the URIs mentioned and on GitHubRepo


§ Several examples with figures, from simple to complex

Example Raw data; System model

Example with transport, market, impact assessment


DISCUSSION [based on BEPs, Section 6]

  • Validation [oops thing]
  • Why we have made certain choices
  • Alternatives left out
  • Reproducibility
  • Extensions: field specific extensions, agent theory (usually lacking in our field), linkages with other resources on WebOfData
  • Give one example of "re-use" by others of the ontology: accounting framework for Stockholm municipality (REFLOW project), how it fits in the ontology (or not) + ref to



  • how we see them;
  • e.g. GDP, economic data
  • agent theory (unless we want to add it to the ontology right away)



Some references


(1)     Pauliuk, S.; Majeau-Bettez, G.; Mutel, C. L.; Steubing, B.; Stadler, K. Lifting Industrial Ecology Modeling to a New Level of Quality and Transparency: A Call for More Transparent Publications and a Collaborative Open Source Software Framework. J. Ind. Ecol. 2015, 19 (6), 937–949; DOI 10.1111/jiec.12316.

(2)     Pauliuk, S.; Majeau-Bettez, G.; Müller, D. B. A General System Structure and Accounting Framework for Socioeconomic Metabolism. J. Ind. Ecol. 2015, 19 (5), 728–741; DOI 10.1111/jiec.12306.

(3)     Pauliuk, S.; Majeau-Bettez, G.; Müller, D. B.; Hertwich, E. G. Toward a Practical Ontology for Socioeconomic Metabolism. J. Ind. Ecol. 2016, 20 (6), 1260–1272; DOI 10.1111/jiec.12386.

(4)     Weidema, B. P.; Schmidt, J.; Fantke, P.; Pauliuk, S. On the Boundary between Economy and Environment in Life Cycle Assessment. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 2018, 23 (9), 1839–1846; DOI 10.1007/s11367-017-1398-4.

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