A topic map is a standard for the representation and interchange of knowledge, with an emphasis on the findability of information. Topic maps were originally developed in the late s as a way to represent back-of-the-book index structures so that multiple indexes from different sources could be merged.
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However, the developers quickly realized that with a little additional generalization, they could create a meta-model with potentially far wider application. Topic maps are similar to concept maps and mind maps in many respects, though only topic maps are ISO standards. Topic maps are a form of semantic web technology similar to RDF. Topics, associations, and occurrences can all be typed, where the types must be defined by the one or more creators of the topic map s.
The definitions of allowed types is known as the ontology of the topic map.
Topic maps explicitly support the concept of merging of identity between multiple topics or topic maps. Furthermore, because ontologies are topic maps themselves, they can also be merged thus allowing for the automated integration of information from diverse sources into a coherent new topic map.
Features such as subject identifiers URIs given to topics and PSIs published subject indicators are used to control merging between differing taxonomies.
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Scoping on names provides a way to organise the various names given to a particular topic by different sources. The specification is summarized in the abstract as follows: "This specification provides a model and grammar for representing the structure of information resources used to define topics, and the associations relationships between topics. Names, resources, and relationships are said to be characteristics of abstract subjects, which are called topics.
Topics have their characteristics within scopes: i.
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One or more interrelated documents employing this grammar is called a topic map. Note that XTM 1.
Linear topic map notation LTM serves as a kind of shorthand for writing topic maps in plain text editors. This is useful for writing short personal topic maps or exchanging partial topic maps by email.
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The format can be converted to XTM. There is another format called AsTMa which serves a similar purpose. When writing topic maps manually it is much more compact, but of course can be converted to XTM. In normal use it is often desirable to have a way to arbitrarily query the data within a particular Topic Maps store.
Many implementations provide a syntax by which this can be achieved somewhat like 'SQL for Topic Maps' but the syntax tends to vary a lot between different implementations.
With this in mind, work has gone into defining a standardized syntax for querying topic maps:. It can also be desirable to define a set of constraints that can be used to guarantee or check the semantic validity of topic maps data for a particular domain. Somewhat like database constraints for topic maps.
Constraints can be used to define things like 'every document needs an author' or 'all managers must be human'. There are often implementation specific ways of achieving these goals, but work has gone into defining a standardized constraint language as follows:. The "Topic Maps" concept has existed for a long time. The HyTime standard was proposed as far back as or earlier?
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Earlier versions of ISO than the current revision also exist. The semantic expressive power of Topic Maps is, in many ways, equivalent to that of RDF , but the major differences are that Topic Maps i provide a higher level of semantic abstraction providing a template of topics, associations and occurrences, while RDF only provides a template of two arguments linked by one relationship and hence ii allow n -ary relationships hypergraphs between any number of nodes, while RDF is limited to triplets.
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