Modeling and Using an Actor Ontology of Second World War Military Units and Personnel

author: Petri Leskinen, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Aalto University
published: Nov. 28, 2017,   recorded: November 2017,   views: 1027


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This paper presents a model for representing historical military personnel and army units, based on large datasets about World War II in Finland. The model is in use in WarSampo data service and semantic portal, which has had tens of thousands of distinct visitors. A key challenge is how to represent ontological changes, since the ranks and units of military personnel, as well as the names and structures of army units change rapidly in wars. This leads to serious problems in both search as well as data linking due to ambiguity and homonymy of names. In our solution, actors are represented in terms of the events they participated in, which facilitates disambiguation of personnel and units in different spatio-temporal contexts. The linked data in the WarSampo Linked Open Data cloud and service has ca. 9 million triples, including actor datasets of ca. 100000 soldiers and ca.16100 army units. To test the model in practice, an application for semantic search and recommending based on data linking was created, where the spatio-temporal life stories of individual soldiers can be reassembled dynamically by linking data from different datasets. An evaluation is presented showing promising results in terms of linking precision.

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