Dr. Thomas Bittner
Department of Philosophy
Department of Geography
State University of New York at
University at Buffalo
135 Park Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
Department of Geo-Informatics,
Technical University of Vienna, Austria,1999
Thesis title: Rough Location
Advisors: Andrew U. Frank, Thomas Eiter
My thesis is on qualitative
representation of and reasoning about location in geographic space. Using
ideas from formal ontology and rough set theory, I developed a formalism that
facilitates the representation of vague phenomena such as mountains, valleys,
wetlands, etc. in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and in spatial
Department of Electrical
Engineering, Technical University of Leipzig, Germany, 1989
Thesis title: Design and
Implementation of a Dynamic Data Structure for 3D Computational Modeling and
Visualization in Electrical Engineering
Advisors: Dieter Herden, Werner Tischer
Scientist at the National Center of Geographic Information and Analysis
Professor of Philosophy and Assistant Professor of Geography at the State
University of New York at Buffalo; Research Scientist at the New York State
Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences
Research Scientist, Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information
Science (IFOMIS), Saarland University, Germany. (permanent position)
develop logic-based tools designed to support general-purpose upper-level
ontologies as well as domain-specific ontologies in medicine and biology.
These tools are used to describe the semantics of shared vocabularies in an
unambiguous and machine-processable form. In this way they help to overcome
shortcomings of current terminology systems such as the Gene Ontology,
SNOMED, UMLS, or GALEN.
am responsible for tools for representing granularity in biomedical domains.
This includes the axiomatic development of formal theories as well as their
encoding in machine processable form. I am also involved in the
axiomatization of an ontology of dynamics and change in biomedicine. Both
areas of research are critical for the construction of descriptively adequate
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Computer and
Information Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA (in Ken
Forbus’ Qualitative Reasoning Group)
I worked, as part of DARPA’s Rapid Knowledge Formation
Project (RKF), on a formal theory of information-extraction and
representation by means of simple graphic images (sketches) and on the
formalization of approximate spatial and spatio-temporal reasoning.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Computing and
Information Science, Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario and Department
of Geo-Informatics, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada.
As a part of the Canadian GEOID project (Geo-Informatics
for Informed Decisions), I was involved in building a decision support system
for the design of built environments. This system takes into account the way
humans understand and structure their environments. It was my task to develop
an ontology of built environments that provides a basis for the formalization
and implementation of the decision support system.
Visiting Research Fellow, National Center of Geographic
Information and Analysis, NCGIA, University of Maine, Department of Spatial
Information Science and Engineering, Orono, USA.
Research Assistant, Department of Geo-Informatics, TU
International Summer School, organized by the Canadian
Course: Ontology and Semantic Interoperability
Department of Philosophy and NCGIA, SUNY Buffalo.
Courses: Mereology – Axiomatic theories of the
Topics in Ontology – Formal Ontology of Geographic Space
Department of Philosophy, SUNY Buffalo.
Course: Topics in Ontology – Ontology of Space and
Areas of Specialization
Spatial and temporal reasoning
Areas of Competence
Geo, Medical and Bio-Informatics
Theories of Uncertainty and Vagueness
Dissertation committee member:
Sorokine, “The Class-Individual-Region Model for Handling Environmental
Representations in Geographic Information Science”. PhD thesis, Department
of Geography, University at Buffalo
Sina, “A Spatial Cognition Approach to Landform Modeling”. PhD thesis,
Department of Geography, University at Buffalo
Services to the Profession
of nominations for the Canada Research Chairs Program
of research proposals for the Canadian GEOID network
Refereeing for Scientific Journals:
of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence
- Applied Ontology
- Artificial Intelligence
Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics
Journal of Applied Logic
Journal of Geographical Information Science
Journal of Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing
of Artificial Intelligence Research (JAIR)
of Spatial Cognition and Computation
- Journal of Visual Languages and Computing
Scientific and reviewing committee member:
on ‘The Geographic Domain and Geographic Information Systems - Ontology
and Epistemology for Spatial Data Standards’ organized by the European
Science Foundation (ESF) September, 23-26, 2000 in Agelonde, France.
International FLAIRS Conference Wyndham Casa Marina Resort, Key West,
Florida, May 21-23, 2001 (Section on Spatiotemporal Reasoning)
International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT ‘‘01) held
in Morro Bay, California, September 19-23, 2001
Workshop on Spatial and Temporal Granularity, held in conjunction with the
Fifth International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT ’01)
International FLAIRS Conference Pensacola, Florida from May 16-18, 2002
(Section on Spatiotemporal Reasoning)
International FLAIRS Conference in St. Augustine, Florida, May 12-14, 2003
(Section on Spatiotemporal Reasoning)
International Symposium on Temporal Representation and Reasoning and 4th
International Conference on Temporal Logic (TIME-ICTL-2003), Cairns,
Queensland, Australia on July 8-10, 2003
Workshop on Reference Ontologies vs. Applications Ontologies, Hamburg,
Germany, September 2003
2004, May 17-18, 2004, Miami, Florida (Section on Spatiotemporal
- FLAIRS 2005, May 16-18, 2005,
Clearwater Beach, Florida.
Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT), September 14-18, 2005
Ellicottville, New York
2006, May 11-13, 2006, Melburne Beach, Florida.
- Fourth International Conference on Geographic
Information Science (GIScience 2006), Muenster,
Germany, September 20-23
- International conference Spatial Cognition 2006,
Bremen, Germany, September 24-28, 2006.
2007, May 7-9, 2007, Key West, Florida.
AGILE International Conference on Geographic Information Science, Aalborg
University 8-11 May 2007
- International Conference on
Spatial Information Theory (COSIT), Mt Eliza, Melbourne, Australia,
September 20-23, 2007
- AISB 2007 Symposium: Spatial Reasoning And Communication, April, 2-5 2007,
Organization of workshops and tutorials at conferences
Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT), September
14, 2005 Ellicottville, New York: Tutorial, An Introduction
to formal ontology and how it can facilitate semantic interoperability.
Papers in refereed journals
Bittner, T. and
L. J. Goldberg (2007). The qualitative and time-dependent character of
spatial relations in biomedical ontologies. Bioinformatics, doi:
Bittner, T. and
M. Donnelly (2007), Logical properties of foundational relations in
Intelligence in Medicine, Vol.
Sorokine, A., Bittner, T. and Renscher, C. (2006). 'Ontological investigation of ecosystem
hierarchies and formal theory for multiscale ecosystem classifications'.
geoinformatica, Vol. 10, Nr. 3, 313-335.
Rector, A., Rogers, J. and Bittner, T. (2006). 'Granularity,
scale and collectivity: When size does and does not matter.' Journal of
Biomedical Informatics, Vol. 39, Nr. 3, 333-349.
Schulz, S., Kumar, A., and Bittner, T., (2006). 'Biomedical
ontologies: What part-of is and isn't.' Journal of Biomedical Informatics, Vol. 39, Nr. 3, 350-361.
M., Bittner, T. and Rosse, C. (2006). 'A Formal Theory for Spatial
Representation and Reasoning in Biomedical Ontologies'. Artificial
Intelligence in Medicine, Vol. 36, Nr. 1, p. 1 – 27.
T., Donnelly, M., and Smith, B. (2004). 'Endurants and Perdurants in
Directly Depicting Ontologies'. AI Communications, IOS Press, Vol. 13, Nr.
4, p. 247-258.
T. 2004. 'A mereological theory of frames of reference'. International
Journal on Artificial Intelligence Tools (IJAIT), Vol. 13, Nr. 1, 171-198
T. and Barry Smith, 2003. ‘Vague Reference and Approximating Judgments’.
Spatial Cognition and Computation, Vol. 3, Nr. 2
T., 2002. ‘Approximate qualitative temporal reasoning’. Annals of
Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 35, Nr. 1-2, 39-80.
T. and John G. Stell, 2002. ‘Approximate qualitative spatial reasoning’.
Spatial Cognition and Computation, Vol. 2, Nr. 4, 435-466.
T. and John G. Stell , 2002. ‘Vagueness and Rough Location’.
Geoinformatica, Vol. 6, 99-121.
T. and Geoffrey Edwards, 2001. ‘Towards an ontology for geomatics’,
Geomatica, Vol. 55, No. 4, 475 – 490.
T. 2001. ‘The qualitative structure of built environments’. Fundamenta
Informaticae. Vol. 46, 97-128.
T. and Andrew U. Frank,1999. ‘On the Design of Formal Theories of Geographic
Space’. Geographical Systems. Vol. 1, Nr. 3, 237-275.
T. and John G. Stell, 1998. ‘A Boundary-Sensitive Approach to Qualitative
Location’. Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence. Vol. 24,
- T. Bittner and J. G. Stell, Approximations. In Shashi
Shekhar and Hui Xiong, editors, Encyclopedia of Geographic Information
Science, Springer Verlag, to appear.
- T. Bittner,
M. Donnelly, L. J. Goldberg, and F. Neuhaus. Modeling
principles and methodologies - spatial representation and reasoning. In
A. Burger, D. Davidson, and R. Baldock, editors, Anatomy Ontologies for Bioinformatics:
Principles and Practice.
Springer Verlag, to appear.
- Bittner, T., Donnelly, M. and Winter, S. 2005.
Ontology and semantic interoperability, In D. Prosperi and S. Zlatanova
(ed.): Large-scale 3D data integration: Challenges and Opportunities,
CRCpress (Tailor & Francis). 139-160.
Papers in refereed conference proceedings
1. Bittner, T., 2007. From
top-level to domain ontologies: Ecosystem classifications as a case study. In
M. Duckham, B. Kuipers, L. Kulik, and S. Winter, editors, Spatial Information
Theory. Cognitive and Computational Foundations of Geographic Information
Science. International Conference (COSIT 2007).
2. Bittner, T. and M. Donnelly, 2007.
A formal theory of qualitative size and distance relations between regions. In Price, C. Proceedings of the 21 International Workshop on
Qualitative Reasoning, QR2007
3. Bittner, T. and M. Donnelly, 2007. A temporal mereology for
distinguishing between integral objects and portions of stuff. In R. Holte and A. Howe (eds.), Proceedings of the Twenty-Second AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence
T. and Donnelly, M. 2006. A theory of granular parthood based on qualitative
cardinality and size measures. In B. Bennett and C. Fellbaum, editors,
Proceedings of the fourth International Conference on Formal Ontology in
Information Systems, FOIS06, 65-76.
T. and L. J. Goldberg. 2006. The qualitative and time-dependent character
of spatial relations in biomedical ontologies. In O. Bodenreider, editor, KR-MED 2006, Second International Workshop
on Formal Biomedical Knowledge Representation, 47-56.
6. T. Bittner and M. Donnelly.
2006. A classification of spatio-temporal entities based on their location in
space-time. In E. Zimanyi, editor, International Workshop on Semantic-based
Geographical Information Systems, Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer
T. and Donnelly, M. (2005). Computational ontologies of parthood,
componenthood, and containment, In L. Kaelbling (ed.): Proceedings of the
Nineteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 382-387.
- Donnelly, M. and Bittner, T. (2005).
Spatial relations between classes of individuals. In D. Mark and T. Cohn
(eds.): Spatial Information Theory. Cognitive and Computational
Foundations of Geographic Information Science. International Conference
(COSIT 2005), 182 – 199.
A. and Bittner, T., 2004. Understanding taxonomies of ecosystems: a
case study. In Fisher, P. (ed.): Developments in Spatial Data
Handling. Springer, Berlin, 559-572.
T., Donnelly, M., and Smith, B. 2004. Individuals, Universals,
Collections: On the Foundational Relations of Ontology. In: A.C. Varzi and
L. Vieu (ed.): Proceedings of the Third Conference on Formal Ontology in
Information Systems (FOIS-04), IOS Press, 37-48.
T. and Donnelly, M. 2004. 'The mereology of stages and persistent
entities', In Lopez de Mantaras, R. and Saitta, L. (ed.): Proceedings of
the European Conference of Artificial Intelligence (ECAI04), IOS Press,
A., Bittner, T., and
Renschler, C. 2004. Ontological Investigation of Ecosystem
Hierarchies and Formal Theory for Multiscale Ecosystem Classifications, In
Proceedings of the International Conference on Geographic Information
C-C., Bittner, T., and Flewelling, D. M., 2004, Modeling Surface Hydrology
Concepts with Endurance and Perdurance. In M. J. Egenhofer, C. Freksa, and
H. J. Miller (eds.): Proceedings of Giscience 2004, LNCS 3234, pp. 67-80,
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.
T., 2004. Axioms for parthood and containment relations in Bio-ontologies,
In Hahn, U. (ed.): Proceedings of the First International Workshop on
Knowledge Representation in Medicine (KR-med04), CEUR Workshop
Proceedings, vol. 102, 4-11.
T. and Smith, B., 2004. Normalizing Medical Ontologies using Basic Formal
Ontology, In Proceedings of GMDS04.
T. and Smith, B., 'A Theory of Granular Partitions'. In: Foundations of
Geographic Information Science, Matthew Duckham, Michael F. Goodchild and
Michael F. Worboys, eds., London: Taylor & Francis Books, 2003,
T. and Stell, J., 2003. Stratified rough sets and vagueness. In: Kuhn, W.
and Worboys, M. and Timpf, S. (ed.): Spatial Information Theory. Cognitive
and Computational Foundations of Geographic Information Science.
International Conference (COSIT ’03), 286-303
F. and Bittner, T., 2003. Process, hierarchy, and scale. In: Kuhn, W. and
Worboys, M. and Timpf, S. (ed.): Spatial Information Theory. Cognitive and
Computational Foundations of Geographic Information Science. International
Conference (COSIT’03), 13-30.
T. and Smith, B. 2003. Directly Depicting Granular Ontologies, In
Proceedings of the1st International Workshop on Adaptive Multimedia
T., 2003. Indeterminacy and rough approximation. In Proceedings of the
16th International FLAIRS Conference, AAAI Press, 450-454.
T. and Smith, B., 2003, Granular Spatio-Temporal Ontologies. In AAAI
Symposium: Foundations and Applications of Spatio-Temporal Reasoning
(FASTR), AAAI Press, 12-17.
T., 2002. Reasoning about qualitative spatio-temporal relations at
multiple levels of granularity. In F. van Harmelen (ed.): ECAI
2002-Proceedings of the 15th European Conference on Artificial
Intelligence, IOS Press, Amsterdam, 317-321.
T., 2002. Granularity in reference to spatio-temporal location and
relations. In Proceedings of the 15th International FLAIRS Conference,
T., 2002. Judgments about spatio-temporal relations. In Proceedings of the
Eighth International Conference on Principles of Knowledge Representation
and Reasoning (KR2002), 521-532.
T and Smith, B. 2001. A unified theory of granularity, vagueness and
approximation. In COSIT Workshop on Spatial Vagueness, Uncertainty, and
T and Smith, B. 2001. Vagueness and granular partitions. In Proceedings of
the Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems - FOIS2001,
Sheridan Press, 309-320.
T and Smith, B. 2001. A taxonomy of granular partitions. In Proceedings of
the Conference on Spatial Information Theory - COSIT’2001, Lecture Notes
in Computer Science, Berlin-Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag, 28-43.
T and Stell, J. 2000. Rough sets in Approximate spatial reasoning. In
Proceedings of Rough Sets and Current Trends in Computing, RSCTC 2000,
Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, Berlin-Heidelberg,
T. 2000. Rough sets in spatio-temporal data mining, In Proceedings of
International Workshop on Temporal, Spatial and Spatio-Temporal Data
Mining, Lyon, France, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence,
Berlin-Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag, 89-104.
T, 2000. A qualitative formalization of built environments, In Proceedings
of DEXA2000, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Berlin-Heidelberg,
T, 2000. Approximate temporal reasoning. In AAAI Workshop on Spatial and
Temporal Granularity, Time 2000, AAAI workshop proceedings.
T. 1999. On Ontology and Epistemology of Rough Location. In Spatial
Information Theory - A Theoretical Basis for GIS (COSIT’99). In Freksa,
C., and Mark, D.M., (eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Lecture
Notes in Computer Science Vol.1661, Berlin-Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag,
T., and Winter, S. 1999. On Ontology in Image Analysis. In Proceedings of
Integrated Spatial Databases ‘99, (Agouris, P., ed.), in Portland, Maine,
Published by Springer, Lecture Notes in Computer Science.
T., and Frank, A.U. 1998. On Representing Geometries of Geographic Space.
In Proceedings of 8th Int. Symposium on Spatial Data Handling, SDH’98,
(Poiker, T.K., and Chrisman, N., eds.), in Vancouver, Canada (July 11-15,
1998), Published by International Geographic Union, 111-122.
T., and Frank, A.U. 1997. An Introduction to the Application of Formal
Theories to GIS. In Proceedings of Angewandte Geographische
Informationsverarbeitung IX (AGIT), (Dollinger, F., and Strobl, J., eds.),
in Salzburg, Published by Institut fuer Geographie, Universitaet Salzburg,
Salzburger Geographische Materialien, Vol. Heft 26, 11-22.
T. 1997. A Qualitative Coordinate Language of Location of Figures within
the Ground. In Spatial Information Theory - A Theoretical Basis for GIS
(International Conference COSIT’97). (Hirtle, S.C., and Frank, A.U.,
eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol.1329, Berlin-Heidelberg,
T. 1996. A Qualitative Model of Geographic Space. In Proceedings of SDH
‘96, (Kraak, M.J., and Molenaar, M., eds.), IGU, Vol. 2, 10.19 - 10.32.
1. Bittner, T., 2007, The
granular and selective character of spatial representations, presented at the Workshop "Handlungsschemata als Grundlagevisueller und
begrifflicher Strukturierung in der Wissensrepraesentation", April 19 and
20, Padderborn, Germany.
T., 2007, The qualitative spatial relations in Bio-ontologies, presented
at the Dagstuhl Seminar ‘Towards
Interoperability of Biomedical Ontologies’, March 27-30 2007.
T., 2006, A theory of granular parthood based on qualitative
cardinality and size measures, presented at the Buffalo Logic Colloquium,
August 16, 2006
T., 2006, A mereological theory of frames of reference, research
colloquium at the interdisciplinary Transregional Collaborative Research
Center Spatial Cognition: Reasoning, Action, Interaction. Bremen
University, Germany, March 2, 2006.
T., 2005, Approximate Qualitative Temporal Reasoning, Dagstuhl Seminar
05151, Annotating, Extracting and Reasoning about Time and Events, 10-15.
April, International Conference and Research Center
for Computer Science, Dagstuhl, Germany.
T., 2004, Spatial Ontology and Semantics. Research seminar ‘Bridging the
gap between GIS and CAD’ at the Bentley International User conference,
22-26 May, Orlando, USA.
T., 2002, Spatio-Temporal Ontologies for Geographic Information Systems,
Workshop on Geo-Ontology, Ilkley, 16-17 September 2002, Ilkley, West
T., 2000, Ontology, Vagueness and Indeterminacy, Conference on ‘The
Geographic Domain and Geographic Information Systems - Ontology and
Epistemology for Spatial Data Standards’, September 23-26, 2000 in