Scale in Object and Process Ontologies

  • Femke Reitsma
  • Thomas Bittner
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2825)


Scale is of great importance to the analysis of real world phenomena, be they enduring objects or perduring processes. This paper presents a new perspective on the concept of scale by considering it within two complementary ontological views. The first, called SNAP, recognizes enduring entities or objects, the other, called SPAN, perduring entities or processes. Within the meta-theory provided by the complementary SNAP and SPAN ontologies, we apply different theories of formal ontology such as mereology and granular partitions, and ideas derived from hierarchy theory. These theories are applied to objects and processes and form the framework within which we present tentative definitions of scale, which are found to differ between the two ontologies.


scale granularity hierarchy process ontology mereology 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ahl, V., Allen, T.F.H.: Hierarchy Theory: a vision, vocabulary, and epistemology. Columbia University Press, New York (1996)Google Scholar
  2. Ahrens, C.D.: Meteorology Today: an introduction to weather, climate, and the environment. West Publishing Company, New York (1991)Google Scholar
  3. Albrecht, J., Car, A.: GIS analysis for scale-sensitive environmental modelling based on hierarchy theory. In: Dikau, R., Saurer, H. (eds.) GIS for Earth Surface Systems, pp. 1–23. Gebruder Borntraeger, Berlin (1999)Google Scholar
  4. Allen, T.F.H., Starr, T.B.: Hierarchy Theory: perspectives for ecological complexity. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1982)Google Scholar
  5. Bittner, T., Smith, B.: A Taxonomy of Granular Partitions. In: Montello, D.R. (ed.) COSIT 2001. LNCS, vol. 2205, p. 28. Springer, Heidelberg (2001)Google Scholar
  6. Bittner, T., Smith, B.: Granular Spatio-Temporal Ontologies. In: AAAI Spring Symposium on Foundations and Applications of Spatio-Temporal Reasoning (FASTR), Palo Alto, California (2003)Google Scholar
  7. Goodchild, M.F., Proctor, J.: Scale in a Digital Geographic World. Geographical & Environmental Modelling 1(1), 5–23 (1997)Google Scholar
  8. Lam, N.S., Quattrochi, D.A.: On the Issue of Scale, Resolution, and Fractal Analysis in the Mapping Sciences. Professional Geographer 44(1), 88–98 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Meyer, W.B., Gregory, D., II, B.L.T., McDowell, P.F.: The Local-global Continuum. In: Olson, J.M. (ed.) Geography’s Inner Worlds, pp. 255–279. Rutgers University Press, New Jersey (1992)Google Scholar
  10. Montgomery, D.R., Buffington, J.M.: Channel Processes, Classification, and Response. In: Naiman, R.J., Bilby, R.E. (eds.) River Ecology and Management: Lessons from the Pacific Coastal Ecoregion, Springer, New York (1998)Google Scholar
  11. Pereira, G.M.: A Typology of Spatial and Temoral Scale Relations. Geographical Analysis 34(1), 21–33 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rigaux, P., Scholl, M.: Multi-scale partitions: Application to spatial and statistical databases. In: Egenhofer, M.J., Herring, J.R. (eds.) SSD 1995. LNCS, vol. 951, Springer, Heidelberg (1995)Google Scholar
  13. Sider, T.: Four-Dimensionalism. Clarendon Press, Oxford (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Simon, H.A.: The Organization of Complex Systems. In: Pattee, H.H. (ed.) Hierarchy Theory: the challenge of complex systems (1973)Google Scholar
  15. Simons, P.: Parts: a study in ontology. Clarendon Press, Oxford (1987)Google Scholar
  16. Smith, B.: On Drawing Lines on a Map. In: Kuhn, W., Frank, A.U. (eds.) COSIT 1995. LNCS, vol. 988, Springer, Heidelberg (1995)Google Scholar
  17. Smith, B., Brogaard, B.: Quantum Mereotopology. Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence 36(1-2), 153–175 (2002)zbMATHCrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  18. Tversky, B.: Where Partonomies and Taxonomies Meet. In: Tsohatzidis, S.L. (ed.) Meanings and Prototypes: studies in linguistic catogorization, Routledge, London (1990)Google Scholar
  19. UCGIS, Scale. Research Priorities: revised white papers (1998)Google Scholar
  20. Zubin, D.: Natural Language Understanding and Reference Frames. In: Languages of Spatial Relations: Initiative 2 Specialist Meeting Report Technical Paper 89-2 (1989); Mark, D.M., Frank, A., Egenhofer, M.J., et al.: Santa Barbara, CA, National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, Santa Barbara, pp. 13–16Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Femke Reitsma
    • 1
  • Thomas Bittner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information ScienceUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

Personalised recommendations