About the Shirt Ontology

An ontology is a representation of knowledge about a particular domain. It consists of a set of terms and the relationships among those terms. When knowledge is structured as an ontology, it allows a computer to access that knowledge.

The Foundational Model of Anatomy (FMA) is an ontology of human anatomy. The FMA is an ongoing project of the Structural Informatics Group at the University of Washington. It is currently curated by José (Onard) Mejino, and has been under development since 1995. It has grown to include over 100,000 terms and 130 types of relationships, making it one of the largest biomedical ontologies in existance.

canonical shirtThe Shirt Ontology was developed as a way to explain what the FMA is and how it is organized. It mimics the structure and content of the FMA, but describes a much more simple and familiar subject: the button-front shirt.

Just as the FMA models canonical (or protypical) human anatomy, the Shirt Ontology models the canonical button-front shirt, pictured at the left.

Why is this ontology about a shirt? A shirt allows us to demonstrate how the FMA accounts for some potentially confusing concepts. For example, human anatomy has right and left sides. A shirt has right and left sides. The FMA models both male and female anatomy. The Shirt Ontology models both men's and women's shirts.

Each section of this tutorial explains a knowledge modeling scheme using the Shirt Ontology, then shows examples of the modeling scheme in the FMA.

After working through this tutorial you may want to view the Shirt Ontology itself. You may download the Shirt Ontology as an OWL file. It can be viewed using Protégé, which is available at http://protege.stanford.edu. The Shirt Ontology was authored in Protege 4.