Category Theory in Ontology Research: Concrete Gain from an Abstract Approach

Document Type


Publication Date



The focus of research on representing and reasoning with knowledge traditionally has been on single specifications and appropriate inference paradigms to draw conclusions from such data. Accordingly, this is also an essential aspect of ontology research which has received much attention in recent years. But ontologies introduce another new challenge based on the distributed nature of most of their applications, which requires to relate heterogeneous ontological specifications and to integrate information from multiple sources. These problems have of course been recognized, but many current approaches still lack the deep formal backgrounds on which todays reasoning paradigms are already founded. Here we propose category theory as a well-explored and very extensive mathematical foundation for modelling distributed knowledge. A particular prospect is to derive conclusions from the structure of those distributed knowledge bases, as it is for example needed when merging ontologies.


AIFB, Universitat Karlsruhe, Technical Report, March 2005.