The workshop is being presented by the UB site of the National Center for Geographic and Information and Analysis (NCGIA), an international leader in the field of qualitative spatial reasoning and spatial ontology. Co-presenters are the Department of Philosophy and the newly established National Center for Ontological Research, which brings together individuals and groups from UB and Stanford University that are interested in cross-disciplinary ontology research.
Organizing the conference are Barry Smith, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Julian Park Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, UB College of Arts and Sciences, and David Mark, professor in the Department of Geography, UB College of Arts and Sciences, and director of the UB site of NCGIA.
Smith is a pioneer in the field of applied ontology. His work addresses a major problem confronting information science today -- it must employ a large number of modeling methods and conceptual categories that lack a unifying foundation. As a result, databases and terminological standards show a very low degree of compatibility and cannot be re-used, even for similar areas of application. The goal of Smith's research is to develop a powerful general ontology -- a semantically sound taxonomical and lexical framework -- for overcoming such problems in reusability and coherence.
Smith, who also serves as director of the National Center for Ontological Research, notes that medical research is becoming increasingly transformed into biomedical research.