SBVR Speaks: (7) Concepts — Forms of Business Representation
In January 2008, the "Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules" (SBVR) was first presented by the Object Management Group (OMG) as an official specification of the OMG. Version 4 (SBVR 1.4) was published in 2017.
Last time we looked at the fundamentals of defining concepts, which are the basis for business rules. In this instalment we turn our attention to the some of the forms that can be used to represent business concepts in a business vocabulary, according to the "Semantics of Business Vocabularies and Business Rules" (SBVR). This part of the SBVR vocabulary (metamodel) provides concepts and terms for stating the captioned items that supplement the definition of an SBVR Structured English vocabulary entry, which we introduced in the last instalment. Next time, we will explore the Definition caption itself in more detail.
An element of concept meaning can be represented either in a fully-formal way — having all terms styled (represented as vocabulary elements) — or by simply providing an informal expression. The Representation Formality segmentation of the representation of a concept's meaning classifies that representation based on whether or not the representation is 'formal'.
A formal representation is a representation in which every word is annotated ('tagged') in accordance with a notation that can be mapped to SBVR. For example, the SBVR Structured English scheme of word styling and key words is one such notation; RuleSpeak is another.
An informal representation is a representation in which not every word is annotated ('tagged') in accordance with a notation that can be mapped to SBVR. However, an informal representation may have some of its words annotated — i.e., tagged individually as terms, names, verbs, or keywords.
In addition to the definition-captioned text for a concept, the following kinds of vocabulary captions are supported:
- Descriptive Example
A description is a representation of a concept that provides a detailed account of something relevant about the concept. In essence, it provides a verbal portrait of the concept.
A descriptive example is a representation of a concept that provides descriptive material that is a sample of some thing of the concept being defined. Typically, the example calls out a prototypical case that is a representative instance of the concept.
A note is a representation of a concept that annotates or explains the concept. A note is typically a statement whose meaning is a proposition. However, the meaning of a note that comments on a concept is itself most likely not a representation of that same concept.
A reference is a representation of a concept that is the mention or citation of a particular source of information used to direct a reader elsewhere for additional information about the concept. Typically, the reference is to a source of information (say, a book or article) that is external to the vocabulary.
Business Content of a Communication
A reference generally points to some information source. That information source is a role that is played by some item of external content (communication content).
An information source is a role played by some item of communication content that is used as a resource to supply information or evidence about a concept.
A communication content is a subdivision of a written composition that consists of one or more statements, and deals with one point or gives the words of one speaker. It is also known as an item of 'message content' or the 'document content'.
 Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR). Object Management Group. The current version of SBVR is available on the OMG site.
 SBVR Insider, "SBVR Speaks: (6) Concepts and Definitions in SBVR," Business Rules Journal, Vol. 7, No. 5 (May 2006) revised, URL: http://www.BRCommunity.com/a2006/b288.html
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