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Realizing the full potential of the Semantic web requires the large-scale adoption and use of ontology-based approaches to sharing of information and resources. Constructing large ontologies typically requires collaboration among multiple individuals or groups with expertise in specific areas, with each participant contributing only a part of the ontology. Therefore, instead of a single, centralized ontology, in most domains, there are multiple distributed ontologies covering parts of the domain. Because no single ontology can meet the needs of all users under every conceivable scenario, the ontology that meets the needs of a user or a group of users needs to be assembled from several independently developed ontology modules. Thus, in realistic applications, it is often desirable to logically integrate different ontologies, wholly or in part, into a single, reconciled ontology. Ideally, one would expect the individual ontologies to be developed as independently as possible from the rest, and the final reconciliation to be seamless and free from unexpected results. This would allow for the modular design of large ontologies and would facilitate knowledge reuse. Few ontology development tools, however, provide any support for integration, and there has been relatively little study of the problem at a fundamental level.
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