Merging terminologies. Academic Article uri icon


  • A terminology is a systematic, authoritative collection of concept names, or terms, in some domain. No single terminology names all the important concepts in biomedicine. One approach to creating a more comprehensive biomedical terminology is to merge existing biomedical terminologies, as the UMLS( Metathesaurus( has done for the last six years. Because existing terminologies may overlap--for example, one terminology may name a concept also named by another terminologyQthe terminologies in the Metathesaurus must be merged. Some terminologies suggest merges through their structure or content e.g., they suggest synonyms or connections to other terminologies; other merges can be suggested by algorithm. Regardless, all merges in the Metathesaurus must be approved by a human editor with appropriate domain knowledge. By the time Meta-U96 is released early in 1996, one prototype and seven released versions of the Metathesaurus will have been produced by a sequence of four qualitatively different methods, named for the way in which they merge terms: #1 "Term Rewrite Rules, #2 "Transitive Closure on Facts," #3 "Fact-at-a-Time Concept Merging," and #4 "Action-at-a-Time Object Processing." The development of each method has been constrained by the annual Metathesaurus release schedule. The first two methods made the best use of limited computational resources, and the last two make better use of human editing resources.

publication date

  • January 1, 1995