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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
In this article we describe an approach to representing and building ontologies advocated by the Bioinformatics and Medical Informatics groups at the University of Manchester. The hand-crafting of ontologies offers an easy and rapid avenue to delivering ontologies. Experience has shown that such approaches are unsustainable. Description logic approaches have been shown to offer computational support for building sound, complete and logically consistent ontologies. A new knowledge representation language, DAML + OIL, offers a new standard that is able to support many styles of ontology, from hand-crafted to full logic-based descriptions with reasoning support. We describe this language, the OilEd editing tool, reasoning support and a strategy for the language’s use. We finish with a current example, in the Gene Ontology Next Generation (GONG) project, that uses DAML + OIL as the basis for moving the Gene Ontology from its current hand-crafted, form to one that uses logical descriptions of a concept’s properties to deliver a more complete version of the ontology.