Scope of the Standard Vocabulary

It has been proposed that the IVOA needs a Standard Vocabulary (SV). We can use this page to define what an SV might be and what would be its scope. Also see StdVocabUseCases to see how an SV might be used.

Scope can be applied to many different areas: which types of term need to be included; what types of problem is it useful in. The following are headings under which we might define the scope. Please add instances or even new headings.

Comment by the chairman (AndreaPreiteMartinez):

The scope of the Standard Vocabulary is stated in the charter of the WG (IVOA EXEC, 17 May 2006). You can read there:

1. User requirements:

"... In the same period of time (i.e. 2005), other WGs realized the need to interact with our WG in order to standardise the vocabulary used to describe the data they were working on (e.g.: DM/SSAP, VOEvents/VOConcepts). The request (implicit at the beginning) was to expand and generalize the work done on UCDs, and so update our task into the definition of a standard vocabulary in the fields covered by IVOA activities."

2. How to proceed to fulfil the requirements:

"... The main activity of the Semantics WG will be to define the basic elements of a Standard Vocabulary (SV) in all the fields covered by IVOA activities. Starting from already available lists of astronomical words, objects, or concepts (the old thesaurus, keywords used in Journals, and the actual text of scientific papers), we will try to define the basic concepts (processes, instruments, methods, object types, etc.), the instances of these concepts, and possibly the relationships among them. The concepts will be described using a syntax similar to that already used for UCDs. This work will be done in collaboration with those IVOA WGs more closely interested in the outcome (and possible rapid application) of this semantic effort."

I would say that this is more a statement of intent than a scope. It is still necessary to define the types of problem the SV will address and the types of terms in should include (point 2 above seems to state that the SV ought to include every concept known to astronomy). :TL:

Types of problem SV will assist with

  • Finding resources, broadly considered. That covers the obvious business of searching for articles about delta Scuti stars by typing a search term into a box, but I (NormanGray) think it also includes finding by browsing, and finding by filtering (for example filtering incoming VOEvents by saying 'forward me all SN1a candidates').
  • ...

Types of term SV needs to include

  • ...

Explicit requirements

the concepts (or rather, their human-readable labels) should be intelligible and useful to the users without training, or a manual, or necessary software support (the latter might help, but shouldn't be necessary). This seems trivial, but it means that vocabulary terms should be useful to professional astronomers searching for articles, observers sending out VOEvents, and people tagging outreach images. It doesn't help if a APOD picture is labelled as "delta Sct", nor help much if an article about delta Scuti stars is labelled just "Star: Type: Variable".

there are multiple users of vocabularies, who may not have compatible requirements. Do we perhaps need multiple sets of requirements for different user groups?

Finding aids
the outputs of this work should aid searching, broadly considered.

Some non-requirements

Not for classification
While vocabulary terms will certainly aid classification in some cases, I think this is a sufficiently different activity that going out of our way to facilitate it might make the result more complicated than it needs to be.

Not complete
(an obvious one, surely) There will always be more to say about things, and the (possibly unconscious) desire to categorise all of astronomy could drive a vocabulary to be bigger than is useful.

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Topic revision: r4 - 2007-09-30 - NormanGray
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