Conceptual Model

In science, there is the need to formally describe some aspects of the physical and social world around us for purposes of understanding and communication. Such descriptions, often referred to as conceptual schemata, require the adoption of a formal notation, namely a conceptual model (Mylopoulos, 2012). By assuming that any given domain consists of objects, relationships, and concepts, we commit ourselves to a specific way of viewing domains, the conceptual model namely. The set of concepts used in a particular domain constitutes a conceptualisation of that domain. The specification of this conceptualisation is sometimes called an ontology of the domain (Olive, 2007).

A concept has an extension and an intension. The extension of a concept is the set of its possible instances, while the intension is the property shared by all its instances. Concepts allow us to classify the things that we perceive as exemplars of the concepts that we have. In other words, what we observe depends on the concepts that we employ in the observation. Classification is the operation that associates an object with a concept. The inverse operation, instantiation, gives an instance of a concept. The set of objects that constitutes an instance of a concept at a given time is known collectively as the population of the concept at that time (Olive, 2007).

A conceptual model brings several advantages including: the documentation and the re-use of the domain knowledge, the reach of consensus among domain experts and IT stakeholders and the provision of a firm basis for the design and development of ISs within the domain (Wand and Weber, 2002).

To the best of our knowledge, limited work on conceptual models for the policy modelling domain has been proposed so far (until June 2013). The Consistent Conceptual Description CCD (Wimmer and Scherer, 2011) presents the vocabulary to describe policy contexts, and it describes how CCD supports the semi-automatic transformation of conceptual models within a policy context to generate formal policy models. Another preliminary conceptual model has been proposed by Wyner et al (2011) in the form of an ontology.


Mylopoulos, J. (2012) Conceptual Modelling and Telos

Olivé, A. (2007) Conceptual Modeling of Information Systems. Springer, Heidelberg.

Wand and Weber (2002) Research Commentary: Information Systems and Conceptual Modeling - A Research Agenda. Information Systems Research, 13(4), pp. 363-376.

Wimmer M. and Scherer S. (2011). Conceptual Models Supporting Formal Policy Modelling: Metamodel and Approach. Modelling Policy-making (MPM 2011).

Wyner A., Atkinson K. and Bench-Capon T. (2011). Semantic Models and Ontologies for Modelling Policy-Making. Modelling Policy Making (MPM 2011).

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