Bittner and Donnelly

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Spatial Ontology and Qualitative Reasoning

July 20-21, 2009

Thomas Bittner, Maureen Donnelly and Fabian Neuhaus

Two-day Course organized in conjunction with the International Conference on Biomedical Ontology

This course will provide an introduction to logical reasoning by Fabian Neuhaus, and to a variety of theories developed for representing and reasoning about spatial relations among entities in the world. it will provide students with the tools for developing their own spatial ontologies. Theories treated will include:

i) Formal methods for biologist: an introduction to logical reasoning (see Neuhaus)
ii) Mereotopologies: theories of parthood and connection relations,
iii) Theories of ordering and distance relations,
iv) Applications.

We will examine also more complex spatial theories which introduce topics such as granularity, change in spatial relations over time, and spatial relations among classes of individuals.


P. M. Simons, Parts: A Study in Ontology, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987.

R. Casati and A. Varzi, Parts and Places: The Structures of Spatial Representation, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.

T. Bittner, Logical properties of relations in bio-ontologies, forthcoming in Applied Ontology.

T. Bittner and L. J. Goldberg, 2007. The qualitative and time-dependent character of spatial relations in biomedical ontologies. Bioinformatics, 2007.


Thomas Bittner is Assistant Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Geography at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is also Research Scientist in the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. His research is in the area of formal ontology and its applications in bioinformatics, geography, and geographic information science. His current research focuses on the application of formal ontology, symbolic logic, and qualitative representation and reasoning techniques (a) to represent canonical biomedical structures in biomedical ontologies, (b) to detect pathological structures in medical image analysis, and (c) to develop axiomatic theories of biomedical structures and processes across different levels of granularity.

Maureen Donnelly is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research interests include metaphysics, formal ontology, qualitative spatial, temporal, and spatio-temporal reasoning, and bioinformatics.

Fabian Neuhaus is a researcher at the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His research is focused on logic, ontology and their applications.