High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine



Editorial Board


Issue 5

 HEP Libraries Webzine
Issue 5 / Novembre 2001


Scientific and General Subject Classifications
in the Digital World

Antonella De Robbio (*),  Dario Maguolo (*), Alberto Marini (**)


In the present work we discuss opportunities, problems, tools and techniques encountered when interconnecting discipline-specific subject classifications, primarily organized as search devices in bibliographic databases, with general classifications originally devised for book shelving in public libraries.
We first state the fundamental distinction between topical (or subject) classifications and object classifications. Then we trace the structural limitations that have constrained subject classifications since their library origins, and the devices that were used to overcome the gap with genuine knowledge representation.
After recalling some general notions on structure, dynamics and interferences of subject classifications and of the objects they refer to, we sketch a synthetic overview on discipline-specific classifications in Mathematics, Computing and Physics, on one hand, and on general classifications on the other.
In this setting we present The Scientific Classifications Page, which collects groups of Web pages produced by a pool of software tools for developing hypertextual presentations of single or paired subject classifications from sequential source files, as well as facilities for gathering information from KWIC lists of classification descriptions.
Further we propose a concept-oriented methodology for interconnecting subject classifications, with the concrete support of a relational analysis of the whole Mathematics Subject Classification through its evolution since 1959.
Finally, we recall a very basic method for interconnection provided by coreference in bibliographic records among index elements from different systems, and point out the advantages of establishing the conditions of a more widespread application of such a method.

A part of these contents was presented under the title Mathematics Subject Classification and related Classifications in the Digital World at the Eighth International Conference Crimea 2001, "Libraries and Associations in the Transient World: New Technologies and New Forms of Cooperation", Sudak, Ukraine, June 9-17, 2001, in a special session on electronic libraries, electronic publishing and electronic information in science chaired by Bernd Wegner, Editor-in-Chief of Zentralblatt MATH.


Connecting Classifications in the Digital World

Subject Classifications and Object Classifications

To Tree or Not To Tree: the Question Between
Partitioning Space and Representing Knowledge

Descriptions and Addresses:
Visiting a Subject Classification Space

Subject Classifications in Mathematics, Computing, Physics

General Library Subject Classifications

Interconnecting Classification Schemes

Displaying Classification Schemes: The Scientific Classifications Page

Buses in the Classification Space-Time

The Space-Time of Mathematics Subject Classification

Envelopes and Objects

Conclusions: the Metadata Machinery and Beyond



We are grateful to Martin Doerr, Nicola Guarino, Silvio Valentini, Chris Welty for enlightening conversations on the topics of this work.



[1] See the Website at http://www.openarchives.org
[2] see the Website of the Ontology group at LADSEB-CNR (Padova, Italy), at
for Formal Ontology in information systems, see [FOIS98];
a more librarianship-oriented perspective in [S00]
[3] [S84];
for an application of a variant of CG, see [GMV99]
[4] [JoLC99, CDLNR98];
see The DL Website at http://www.ida.liu.se/labs/iislab/people/patla/DL/index.html
[5] Further information metadata, in relation with thesauri, can be found in [H01]
[6] For thesauri see [D01, TAJ01].
For ontologies an evolving line of is thought displayed in [G98, G99, GW00, GW01]
[7] The 1995 and 2000 versions are available in hypertextual presentation at
[8] Math Doc Cell issues a multilingual (French, English, Italian) Web presentation of the 2000 MSC version, available at
The English data has been taken from the AMS site
the Italian ones from the the site we set up at
[9] See the EULER site: http://www.emis.de/projects/EULER/
[10] http://www.ams.org/mathweb/Classif/RZhClassification.html
[11] A Web presentation of the ZDM classification is available at:
[12] Web presentations of the 1964, 1991 and 1998 versions are available at:
[13] http://www.aip.org/pubservs/pacs.html
[14] http://www.iee.org.uk/publish/inspec/docs/classif.html
[15] http://www.oclc.org/dewey/products/index.htm
[16] http://www.mathematik.uni-osnabrueck.de/projects/carmen/
[17] The DDC 510 revision proposal presented by Giles Martin is visible at
[18] [RSG99];
for related topics in the field of hypertext functionality, see the whole special issue of "Journal of Digital Information", [JoDI99]
[19] [SG99, CSSV];
see the homepage of the Padua Logic Group, at



AGB97 J. Aitchison, A. Gilchrist, D. Bawden
"Thesaurus construction: a practical manual", 3rd ed., ASLIB, 1997
BJR98 G. Booch, L. Jacobson, J. Rumbaugh
"The Unified Modeling Language User Guide", Addison-Wesley, 1998
C01 S. Cranefield
Networked Knowledge Representation and Exchange using UML and RDF
"Journal of Digital Information", 1(8), 2001
CCMS96 L.M. Chan, J.P. Comaromi, J.S. Mitchell, M.P. Satija
"Dewey Decimal Classification: a practical guide. 2nd ed., revised for DDC 21", OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 1996
CDLNR98 D. Calvanese, G. De Giacomo, M. Lenzerini, D. Nardi, R. Rosati
Description logic framework for information integration
"Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KR'98)", Morgan Kaufman, 1998. p. 2-13
CSSV T. Coquand, G. Sambin, J. Smith, S. Valentini
Inductively generated formal topologies
to appear
D01 M. Doerr
Semantic Problems of Thesaurus Mapping
"Journal of Digital Information", 1(8), 2001
F96 A.C. Foskett
"The Subject Approach to Information", 5th ed., Library Association Publishing, 1996
FOIS98 "Formal Ontology in Information Systems: proceedings of FOIS'98", N. Guarino (ed.), IOS Press, 1998
G98 N. Guarino
Some Ontological Principles for Designing Upper Level Lexical Resources
"Proceedings of the First International Conference on Lexical Resources and Evaluation, Granada, Spain, 28-30 May 1998"
G99 N. Guarino
The role of Identity Conditions in Ontology Design
"Proceedings of the IJCAI-99 Workshop on Ontology and Problem Solving Methods (KRRS), Stockholm, Sweden, August 2, 1999"
Republished in "Spatial Information Theory: Cognitive and Computational Foundations of Geographic Information Science", C. Freksa and D. M. Frank (eds.), Springer Verlag, 1999
GMV99 N. Guarino, C. Masolo, G. Vetere
Ontoseek: Content-based Access to the Web
"IEEE Intelligent Systems", 14(3), 1999. p. 70-80
GW00 N. Guarino, C. Welty
Ontological Analysis of Taxonomic Relationships
"Proceedings of ER-2000: The 19th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling", A. Laender, V. Storey (eds.), Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2000
GW01 N. Guarino, C. Welty
Identity and Subsumption
Ladseb Internal Report 01/2001
H01 J. Hunter
MetaNet - A Metadata Term Thesaurus to Enable Semantic Interoperability Between Metadata Domains
"Journal of Digital Information", 1(8), 2001
JoDI99 "Journal of Digital Information" - Vol. 1, Issue 4: "Hypermedia Systems"
JoDI01 "Journal of Digital Information" - Vol. 1, Issue 8: "Networked Knowledge Organization Systems"
JoLC99 "Journal of Logic and Computation" - Vol. 9, No. 3: "Special Issue on Description Logics"
KW01 T. Krichel, S. Warner
Vocabulary for the Academic Metadata Format, draft
RSG99 G. Rossi, D. Schwabe, A. Garrido
Designing Computational Hypermedia Applications
"Journal of Digital Information", 1(4), 1999
S84 J. Sowa
"Conceptual Structures: Information Processing in Minds and Machines", Addison-Wesley, 1984
S00 E. Svenonius
"The Intellectual Foundations of Information Organization", MIT Press, 2000
SG99 G. Sambin, S. Gebellato
A preview of the basic picture: a new perspective on formal topology
Proceedings of "Types '98", T. Altenkirch, W. Naraschewski and B. Reus (eds.), Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 1999
TAJ01 D. Tudhope, H. Alani, C. Jones
Augmenting Thesaurus Relationships: Possibilities for Retrieval
"Journal of Digital Information", 1(8), 2001
V S. Valentini
Formal Topology and Search Engine
in preparation
WJ99 C. Welty, J. Jenkins
Formal Ontology for Subject
"Data and Knowledge Engineering", 31(2), 1999. p. 155-182


Author Details

Antonella De Robbio
e-mail: derobbio@math.unipd.it
Home Page: http://www.math.unipd.it/~derobbio/home/antohp.htm

Dario Maguolo
e-mail: dario@math.unipd.it
Biblioteca del Seminario Matematico
Universit` degli Studi di Padova

Alberto Marini
e-mail: alberto@iami.mi.cnr.it
Home Page: http://www.iami.mi.cnr.it/~alberto/
Istituto per le Applicazioni della Matematica e dell'Informatica
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (IAMI-CNR), Milano


For citation purposes:
Antonella De Robbio, Dario Maguolo, Alberto Marini, "Scientific and General Subject Classifications in the Digital World", High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine, issue 5, November 2001
URL: <http://webzine.web.cern.ch/webzine/5/papers/4>

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