Archive for October, 2003

The TAO of Topic Maps

Topics, Associations, Occurences

Indexes define these, Glossaries define topic meaning, Thesauri define topic associations and may ‘type’ them eg broader term, related term. Topic maps are more efficient than full text indexing.

Conceptual graphs in AI

Topic maps combine the topic/occurence axis with the topic/association axis

Topics have types eg Puccini would be a topic of type “composer”. Types must also be topics.

Occurances are generally external to the topic map document itself.

A topic association asserts a relationship between two or more topics eg “Tosca was written by Puccini”, Tosca takes place in Rome”

The ability to do typing of topic associations greatly increases the expressive power of the topic map, making it possible to group together the set of topics that have the same relationship to any given topic.


Indicators – a resource that is intended to provide a positive, unambiguous indication of the identity of a subject.

Facets – name, value metadata pairs for topics

Scope – contextual boundary for a topic as distinct from its homonyms

You can only talk rubbish if you're aware of knowledge.
Karl Pilkington