Even those deep in the business of information management often have a problem understanding the difference between ontologies and taxonomies. This interesting information came to us from Earley Information Science in their article, “What is the Difference between Taxonomy and Ontology? It is a Matter of Complexity.”

Seth Earley, CEO of Earley Information Science, defines ontology as “a collection of various taxonomies that can be used to describe a domain of knowledge along with the relationships among them.”

What we know is ontology specializes in relationships and all that comes with them. Taxonomy identifies relationships between items and categories, but lacks the complexity that ontology provides.

Relationships in taxonomies are all about the links, or the lack thereof. Ontologies provide added layers to those relationships by looking at a larger universe.

Taxonomists tend to look for the simplest path. Ontologies are not always that simple.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.