Disjointness, open and local closed world reasoning

By default, OWL considers the world as ‘open’, i.e. everything that is not stated in the ontology is not ‘false’ but ‘possible’ (this is known as open world assumption). Therfore, things and facts that are ‘false’ or ‘impossible’ must be clearly stated as so in the ontology.

Disjoint Classes

Two (or more) Classes are disjoint if there is no Individual belonging to all these Classes (remember that, contrary to Python instances, an Individual can have several Classes, see Classes and Individuals (Instances)).

A Classes disjointness is created with the AllDisjoint() function, which takes a list of Classes as parameter. In the example below, we have two Classes, Drug and ActivePrinciple, and we assert that they are disjoint (yes, we need to specify that explicitely – sometimes ontologies seem a little dumb!).

>>> from owlready2 import *

>>> onto = get_ontology("http://test.org/onto.owl")

>>> with onto:
...     class Drug(Thing):
...         pass
...     class ActivePrinciple(Thing):
...         pass
...     AllDisjoint([Drug, ActivePrinciple])

Disjoint Properties

OWL also introduces Disjoint Properties. Disjoint Properties can also be created using AllDisjoint().

Different Individuals

Two Individuals are different if they are distinct. In OWL, two Individuals might be considered as being actually the same, single, Individual, unless they are stated different. Difference is to Individuals what disjointness is to Classes.

The following example creates two active principles and asserts that they are different (yes, we also need to state explicitely that acetaminophen and aspirin are not the same!)

>>> acetaminophen = ActivePrinciple("acetaminophen")
>>> aspirin       = ActivePrinciple("aspirin")

>>> AllDifferent([acetaminophen, aspirin])


In Owlready2, AllDifferent is actually the same function as AllDisjoint – the exact meaning depends on the parameters (AllDisjoint if you provide Classes, AllDifferent if you provide Instances, and disjoint Properties if you provide Properties).

Querying and modifying disjoints

The .disjoints() method returns a generator for iterating over AllDisjoint constructs involving the given Class or Property. For Individuals, .differents() behaves similarly.

>>> for d in Drug.disjoints():
...     print(d.entities)
[onto.Drug, onto.ActivePrinciple]

The ‘entities’ attribute of an AllDisjoint is writable, so you can modify the AllDisjoint construct by adding or removing entities.

OWL also provides the ‘disjointWith’ and ‘propertyDisjointWith’ relations for pairwise disjoints (involving only two elements). Owlready2 exposes all disjoints as AllDisjoints, including those declared with the ‘disjointWith’ or ‘propertyDisjointWith’ relations. In the quad store (or when saving OWL files), disjoints involving 2 entities are defined using the ‘disjointWith’ or ‘propertyDisjointWith’ relations, while others are defined using AllDisjoint or AllDifferent.

Closing Individuals

The open world assumption also implies that the properties of a given Individual are not limited to the ones that are explicitely stated. For example, if you create a Drug Individual with a single Active Principle, it does not mean that it has only a single Active Principle.

>>> with onto:
...     class has_for_active_principle(Drug >> ActivePrinciple): pass

>>> my_acetaminophen_drug = Drug(has_for_active_principle = [acetaminophen])

In the example above, ‘my_acetaminophen_drug’ has an acetaminophen Active Principle (this fact is true) and it may have other Active Principle(s) (this fact is possible).

If you want ‘my_acetaminophen_drug’ to be a Drug with acetaminophen and no other Active Principle, you have to state it explicitely using a restriction (see Class constructs, restrictions and logical operators):

>>> my_acetaminophen_drug.is_a.append(has_for_active_principle.only(OneOf([acetaminophen])))

Notice that we used OneOf() to ‘turn’ the acetaminophen Individual into a Class that we can use in the restriction.

You’ll quickly find that the open world assumption often leads to tedious and long lists of AllDifference and Restrictions. Hopefully, Owlready2 provides the close_world() function for automatically ‘closing’ an Individual. close_world() will automatically add ONLY restrictions as needed; it accepts an optional parameter: a list of the Properties to ‘close’ (defaults to all Properties whose domain is compatible with the Individual).

>>> close_world(my_acetaminophen_drug)

Closing Classes

close_world() also accepts a Class. In this case, it closes the Class, its subclasses, and all their Individuals.

By default, when close_world() is not called, the ontology performs open world reasoning. By selecting the Classes and the Individuals you want to ‘close’, the close_world() function enables local closed world reasoning with OWL.

Closing an ontology

Finally, close_world() also accepts an ontology. In this case, it closes all the Classes defined in the ontology. This corresponds to fully closed world reasoning.