Beyond synonymy: exploiting the UMLS semantics in mapping vocabularies. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) contains semantic information about terms from various sources, each concept can be understood and located by its relationships to other concepts: this is a result of the organizing principle of semantic locality. We describe a method in which the semantic relationships between concepts are used to map concepts from different vocabularies in the UMLS. Applied to mapping concepts to MeSH, this method is able to map 50 to 65% of the non-MeSH concepts to MeSH. A manual review of the mapping shows a relevance rate of 61%. Causes of failure include a lack of consistently represented relationships in the UMLS, and some inconsistencies in the categorization of the concepts. The limits of this method are discussed, as well as possible adaptations for other uses.

publication date

  • January 1, 1998