First IAO workshop

The Information Artifact Ontology (IAO) is a new ontology of information entities, originally driven by work by the OBI digital entity and realizable information entity branch. We intend to submit the ontology to the OBO Foundry.

The first workshop on the IAO will take place in Boston at the MIT Stata Center, June 9, 2008, in Room 346. On June 10, a subset of participants will meet to discuss the ontology of synthetic biology parts

To define the scope of the ontology, we take the definition of information entity to be, tentatively.

An information entity is a generically dependent continuant that originates with a sentient - either by a person thinking/communicating, or by a machine that was designed to have a function to produce/communicate information.

The information entity ontology would be based on the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO)



We expect the discussion to wide ranging, but to certainly include discussions of:

  • Files and Data
  • Measurements
  • Contracts
  • Narrative Objects
  • Plans, objectives and planning
  • Programming languages and software
  • Relationships between information entities, and between them and other things in the world.


This is the first workshop on this ontology but previous work has been done within OBI and in discussion prior to the workshop. Desired outcomes are:

  • Outline and gain consensus on scope of work
  • Give definitions for important upper level terms
  • Review use cases from OBI and currently defined terms
  • First draft skeleton of the ontology for submission to OBO Foundry
  • Discuss opportunities for funding work on the ontology

Agenda (tentative)

Monday: Information entities

  • 9.00am Continental Breakfast and introductions
  • 9.30am Alan Ruttenberg: Introduction to IAO -- What is needed, and why
  • 10.30am Coffee
  • 10.45am Barry Smith: The ontological background: What are Information Entities?
  • 12.00pm Lunch
  • 1.00pm Files, data, and measurement
  • 2:00pm Narrative objects, software, plans and goals
  • 3:00pm Coffee
  • 3:15pm Law, licenses, contracts
  • 4:30pm Next steps
  • 5.30pm Break
  • 6.30pm Dinner

Tuesday: Synthetic biology parts

  • 9.00am Registration and Continental Breakfast
  • 9.30am Tom Knight: The parts registry - Goals and needs.
  • 10.30am Coffee
  • 10.45am Barry Smith: Introduction to biomedical ontology, OBO Foundry
  • 11:15am Discussion: Selected issues in representing parts
  • 12.00pm Lunch
  • 1.00pm Discussion, continued
  • 1:30pm Next steps
  • 2:00pm Adjourn

Confirmed attendees

For further information, contact Alan Ruttenberg or Barry Smith