Doctoral candidate Jessica Cheng successfully defended her dissertation, "Agreeing to Disagree: Applying a Logic-based Approach to Reconciling and Merging Multiple Taxonomies," on May 25.
Her committee included Professor Bertram Ludäscher (chair); Professor Allen Renear; Assistant Professor Karen Wickett; and Nico Franz, professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University.
Abstract: Taxonomies are used to classify concepts into hierarchies via parent-child (is-a) relationships. The proliferation of taxonomies leads to interoperability challenges when one attempts to incorporate existing taxonomies with a newly created taxonomy, or to integrate multiple data in a digital library that were prepared by different taxonomies. To address these interoperability challenges, methods to systematically align two taxonomies and merge them into a single merged view have been developed in extant literature. However, merging taxonomies into a unified representation may result in the loss of important information that was present in the original taxonomies. The goals of this dissertation are thus to align and merge taxonomies that: (1) preserve the information in both taxonomies in the merged solution(s); (2) provide multiple possible solutions. Cheng applies a logic-based alignment approach to taxonomies in socio-geographic contexts, including the United States maps, country taxonomies, indigenous peoples' tribes, and historical sovereignties in biodiversity data. Through these use cases, it is demonstrated that the logic-based taxonomy alignment approach is feasible to reconcile conflicts in socio-geographic taxonomies.