Derive SV from the IAU Thesaurus : (Was: Re: SV: do we need it?
thomas at astro.umd.edu
Wed Sep 19 08:50:33 PDT 2007
On Wednesday 19 September 2007, Frederic V. Hessman wrote:
> > It has been suggested that the need for the SV is obvious and
> pressing. Is
> > it? What for? Maybe people could reply to this with their own views.
> > One of the original motivations for the SV came from DAL/DM: we
> > have a need to describe the type of astronomical object observed
> > (Target.Class), or search for data for a particular class of object
> > (TargetClass input parameter) and found that, while some partial
> > compilations of this type had been created within astronomy, there
> > was nothing comprehensive.
Hmm. I should have raised this before, but what about the IAU
Thesaurus? Even if its not supported since mid-90's its pretty
comprehensive. It even has some files available online from which
the project may be jump-started.
(list of terms in several languages: http://www.aao.gov.au/lib/multiling.txt);
(Trex files. These include simple hierarchical ordering, so your 'broader/narrow'
defs are already prepared for you! check out:
http://www.aao.gov.au/lib/thesaurus.html and download one of the 'trex' bundles)
So.. with these machine parse-able text files available, which seem to supply
both multilingual aliases, and hierarchy of terms, and the bonus of this being
as 'official' a source as one might hope to encounter, I would find it a difficult
argument to NOT use this.
Perhaps there are too many terms? In this case then, why not simply cherry
pick terms? Clearly additional terms which have come into use since
the last publication are going to be needed, alongside some bridging terms,
but you can hardly go wrong with using this source, and I would urge
not (re-)inventing stuff that is already in there. Perhaps the work in the
recent draft is already based on the Thesaurus (mea culpa: I haven't had
time to read it), kudos if this is the case.
I also want to add that while machine-understandability is the definite
goal of such a dictionary, it should also have human-readable definitions
for the terms embedded in the document. Without this kind of
'self-documentation' you eventually get into problems of what the
original meaning of the term was supposed to be (some terms
will be ambiguous). Again, the IAU thesaurus is invaluable here, as it
already supplies these definitions, and it might be enough to put in
an annotation pointing to that term in the published work.
More information about the semantics