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This chapter describes the need for complex semantic models, i.e., ontologies of real-world categories, referents, and instances, to go beyond the barriers of terminology and data structures. Terms and local data structures are often tolerated in information technology because these are simpler, provide structures that humans can seemingly interpret easily and easily use for their databases and computer programs, and are locally salient. In particular, we focus on both the need for ontologies for data integration of databases, and the need for foundational ontologies to help address the issue of semantic interoperability. In other words, how do you span disparate domain ontologies, which themselves represent the real-world semantics of possibly multiple databases? We look at both sociocultural and geospatial domains and provide rationale for using foundational and domain ontologies for complex applications. We also describe the use of the Common Semantic Model (COSMO) ontology here, which is based on lexical-conceptual primitives originating in natural language, but we also allow room for alternative choices of foundational ontologies. The emphasis throughout this chapter is on database issues and the use of ontologies specifically for semantic data integration and system interoperability.

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