Press Release

UMBEL Version 1.20 Released

CORALVILLE, IA, April 21, 2015 -- Structured Dynamics today released version 1.20 of the open source UMBEL (Upper Mapping and Binding Exchange Layer) vocabulary and ontology. The key advances in this new version include refinements to the UMBEL generator, improved tests for satisfiabliity and coherence, and additional mappings and structure to aid UMBEL's role as a computing overlay for existing knowledge bases, such as Wikipedia.

UMBEL's Web site states its first purpose is to provide a general vocabulary of classes and predicates for describing domain ontologies, with the specific aim of promoting interoperability with external datasets and domains. Its stated second purpose is to provide a coherent framework of reference subjects and topics for grounding relevant Web-accessible content.

Summary of Changes

These are the principal changes between the last public release, version 1.10, and this version 1.20:

  • Expanded mappings to OpenCyc to better capture coverage of Wikipedia content; there are now 35,533 reference concepts (RCs) in UMBEL, 35,302 of which are mapped to OpenCyc (the unmapped RCs are mostly used for organizational purposes in the Attributes Ontology and OpenCyc mismatches with key external ontologies)
  • Created a new Attributes Ontology (AO), with the purpose of enabling property (attribute) mappings to UMBEL (see further the UMBEL Annex L discussion for more details on this version update)
  • Created a new Attributes module, with 1,002 RCs assigned
  • Created a new Entities SuperType, with 20,393 RCs designated. The Entities ST is by definition non-disjoint with UMBEL's other SuperTypes
  • Created a new Entities module, with 9,317 RCs assigned; the remainder of the Entites RCs are in core
  • Expanded the direct UMBEL RC to Wikipedia page mappings, with 25,582 currently mapped, or nearly three-quarters (72%) of RCs now assigned
  • Created a new Annex Z to hold updated statistics about UMBEL
  • Deprecated the Workplaces SuperType, and merged with the Facilities ST
  • Deprecated the MarketIndustries SuperType, and merged with the Attributes ST
  • Reviewed and greatly improved ST assignments across the board; notably, the distinction between the Events and Activities SuperTypes was improved. See Annex Z for the updated ST assignment statistics
  • Greatly expanded and improved the UMBEL generator to handle satisfiability tests and modules creation
  • Expanded and updated the Web site.

According to Michael Bergman, one of UMBEL's co-editors, the most important advance is the addition of an Attributes Ontology. He points to the prior articles of An UMBEL Extension for Attributes and Conceptual and Practical Distinctions in the Attributes Ontology for more information.

A Summary Overview of UMBEL

UMBEL presently has about 35,000 reference concepts drawn from the Cyc knowledge base, split into 'core' and a series of optional modules, which are organized into 32 mostly disjoint SuperTypes.There is also a big graph visualization of the structure.

Bergman listed some of the benefits from using the UMBEL system to include:

  • Mapping to other ontologies -- disparate and heterogeneous datasets and ontologies may be related to one another by mapping to the UMBEL structure
  • A scaffolding for domain ontologies -- more specific domain ontologies can be made interoperable by using and tieing their more general concepts into the UMBEL structure
  • Inferencing -- the UMBEL reference concept structure is designed for inferencing, which supports better semantic search and look-ups
  • Semantic tagging -- UMBEL, and ontologies mapped to it, can be used as input bases to ontology-based information extraction (OBIE) for tagging text or documents; UMBEL's "semsets" broaden these matches and can be used across languages
  • Linked data mining -- via the reference ontology, direct and related concepts may be retrieved and mined and then related to one another
  • Creating computable knolwedge bases -- with complete mappings to key portions of a knowledge base, say, for Wikipedia articles, it is possible to use the UMBEL graph structure to create a computable knowledge source, with follow-on benefits in artificial intelligence and KB testing and improvements, and
  • Categorizing instances and named entities -- UMBEL can bring a consistent framework for typing entities and relating their descriptive attributes to one another.

UMBEL is being developed and refined via large-scale use cases. A number of improvements have been brought to the system to make it more testable, manageable, and flexible. The first improvement was to introduce the so-called SuperTypes to UMBEL (details may be found here).

To make UMBEL more tractable, it has also been modularized it into 'core', 'geo', 'entities', and 'attributes' modules (the latter two modules being added in this new release). The modules can be swapped out with other external options or left out of analysis if not needed for a given domain interest. Formal  mappings are available to other important external reference sets such as Wikipedia, OpenCyc,, the DBpedia ontology,GeoNames and PROTON.

Beginning with version 1.10, a new UMBEL generator written in Clojure was added to the system that allows the entire system to be built and tested from a series of simple input files. The system ties into the OWL API for certain tests and capabilities (UMBEL is OWL 2-compliant).

Still a Work in Progress

Though UMBEL retains its same mission as when the system was first formulated eight years ago, Fred Giasson, another of UMBEL's co-editors, sees its role expanding. The two key areas of expansion are in UMBEL's use to model and map instance data attributes and in acting as a computable overlay for Wikipedia (and other knowledge bases). These two areas of expansion are still a work in progress.

This UMBEL version 1.20 marks the first expression of the Attributes Ontology. The mapping to Wikipedia is now about 72% complete. There likely will need to be a series of releases over time to refine these newer capabilities. As Bergman notes, "We want to get to a 100% coverage point with Wikipedia, and then to exercise the structure for machine learning and other tests against the KB. One of our ultimate goals is to turn Wikipedia into a fully computable knowledge structure."

Where to Get UMBEL and Learn More

The UMBEL Web site provides various online tools and Web services for exploring and using UMBEL. The UMBEL Vocabulary or the UMBEL Reference Concept ontology may be downloaded from its GitHub site under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Other documents and backup are also available from that location.

Technical specifications for UMBEL and its various annexes are available from the UMBEL wiki site, including a PDF version of the specifications.  from there. You are also welcomed to participate on the UMBEL mailing list.

Press Contacts:
Michael Bergman
Structured Dynamics LLC
Tel: 319-621-5225
Email: mike at structureddynamics dot com