This was originally posted in CrossValidated, but marked as off-topic and it was suggested that I post this question here (even though it is related to programming and machine learning).

From my understanding an Ontology is a description of how a real object can be understood or represented (such as a chair being a collection of atoms, a piece of furniture part of a larger collection of other furniture belonging in a room or perhaps a description of how the components of a chair are related to each other).

On the other hand I think KR is the digital representation of an Ontology (such as the computing science concepts: structs, classes, graphs, trees or other models).

I am quite certain that I am wrong and I am finding it hard to answer this question on my own.

  • ontology is a word that has many meanings. This meaning seems to be idiosyncratic to a particular type of programming problem.
    – virmaior
    Jul 11, 2015 at 0:47
  • Ok, I also posted this in theoretical computer science, maybe someone there will know. Thanks! Jul 11, 2015 at 10:35

1 Answer 1


As you and commenters observe, ontology is viewed slightly differently across disciplines and in philosophy is applied to any metaphysical investigation of the nature of being -- though many philosophers have seen ontology as problems of classification and semantics.

In KR, an ontology is used to describe a particular approach to the representation of concepts and their inter-relations. It does not need to be digital, though approaches such as OWL are popular and link to semantic web technologies (with, for example, simple RDF used to represent facts and OWL used to represent higher level concepts that can organise these facts).

But ontologies are not the only approach to KR. KR systems could be simple flat file or relational databases, or based on underlying machine learning models.

This question and answers might also be useful:

Aside from logical representations, what are other ways philosophers approach representing knowledge?

  • Thank you for answering, I am investigating the concepts and links you have provided and will mark this answer as solved once I have understood. They are very usefull. Jul 12, 2015 at 12:12

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