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In information science, an upper ontology (also known as a top-level ontology, upper model, or foundation ontology) is an ontology (in the sense used in information science) that consists of very general terms (such as "object", "property", "relation") that are common across all domains. An important function of an upper ontology is to support broad semantic interoperability among a large number of domain-specific ontologies by providing a common starting point for the formulation of definitions. Terms in the domain ontology are ranked under the terms in the upper ontology, e.g., the upper ontology classes are superclasses or supersets of all the classes in the domain ontologies.
A number of upper ontologies have been proposed, each with its own proponents.
Library classification systems predate upper ontology systems. Though library classifications organize and categorize knowledge using general concepts that are the same across all knowledge domains, neither system is a replacement for the other.
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