Modular Structures and Atomic Decomposition in Ontologies

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Chiara Del Vescovo
Matthew Horridge
Bijan Parsia
Uli Sattler
Thomas Schneider
Haoruo Zhao


With the growth of ontologies used in diverse application areas, the need for module extraction and modularisation techniques has risen. The notion of the modular structure of an ontology, which comprises a suitable set of base modules together with their logical dependencies, has the potential to help users and developers in comprehending, sharing, and maintaining an ontology. We have developed a new modular structure, called atomic decomposition (AD), which is based on modules that provide strong logical properties, such as locality-based modules. In this article, we present the theoretical foundations of AD, review its logical and computational properties, discuss its suitability as a modular structure, and report on an experimental evaluation of AD. In addition, we discuss the concept of a modular structure in ontology engineering and provide a survey of existing decomposition approaches.

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