Knowledge Taxonomy and Ontology


The term taxonomy is popularly used in Science. Owing to the amount of content generated in other fields, the use of this term is increasing in other branches of knowledge as well. As the fundamental role, taxonomy categorizes the subjects into subsets of knowledge on the basis of description, nomenclature, identification of the learning concept. Thus, taxonomy facilitates searching; categorization and standardization of content, one of the key challenges in knowledge diffusion. Meriam Webster Dictionary defines taxonomy as “the process or system of describing the way in which different living things are related by putting them in groups” (Merriam-Webster, 2016). Taxonomies are used for systematic organisation of knowledge. Taxonomy provide authoritative control over the usage of a term in a subject i.e. vocabulary and thesaurus. Taxonomies are specific according to the subject. Subjects like the library and information science have various systems for indexing of subject terms i.e. POPSI, PRECIS, KWIC, KWOC etc.

Meriam Webster Dictionary defines ontology as “branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being”. Ontology is a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of things that have existence. Ontology is also the representation of knowledge and the kinds of things that exist in the knowledge domain. Ontology provides the foundation to the subject constructed on well-founded concepts which can leverage to build meaningful higher-level knowledge (Merriam-Webster, 2016).

In knowledge organization the terms used in formation of taxonomies and ontologies, are selected with great care, ensuring that the most basic foundational concepts and distinctions are defined and specified in a knowledge domain. The terms chosen form a complete set, whose relationships to each other are predefined. It is the formally defined relationships that provide a semantic basis for the terminology chosen. If we focus on the difference between ontology and taxonomies, we found that ontology is more than a classification of terms in the knowledge domain, although taxonomy forms base to the semantics of term in a vocabulary of a subject (Varma, Vasudeva 2007).

Therefore, the taxonomy is a hierarchical arrangement of entities i.e. tree (parent-child) kind of relationship in a subject while ontology explains arbitrary complex relations between the concepts in a subject.


Reference Article:

  • Kumar, A. (2018). Global Knowledge Diffusion Vocational Education and Training. Retrieved from:
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