Causality and the ontology of disease

Applied ontology 10 (2):79-105 (2015)
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The goal of this paper is two-fold: first, to emphasize causality in disease ontology and knowledge representation, presenting a general and cursory discussion of causality and causal chains; and second, to clarify and develop the River Flow Model of Diseases (RFM). The RFM is an ontological account of disease, representing the causal structure of pathology. It applies general knowledge of causality using the concept of causal chains. The river analogy of disease is explained, formal descriptions are offered, and the RFM disease definition is refined by describing causal chains in terms of causal relations. The definition is updated to coincide with the actual RFM classes found in its upper-level ontology, YAMATO, which brings to light some challenges in developing both YAMATO and the RFM. The RFM is also discussed in relation to another ontological account of disease. Strategies are offered toward interoperability between these theories.



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Robert J. Rovetto
American Military University