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Scientific Units in the Electronic Age

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Scientific Units in the Electronic Age

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Scientists have standardized on the SI unit system since the late 1700’s. While much work has been done over the years to refine and redefine the system, little has formally done to standardize the representation of the SI units in electronic systems.

This paper will present a summary of current efforts toward electronic representation of scientific units in text, XML, and RDF, an analysis of needs for current computer/network systems, and an outline of future work.

Scientists have standardized on the SI unit system since the late 1700’s. While much work has been done over the years to refine and redefine the system, little has formally done to standardize the representation of the SI units in electronic systems.

This paper will present a summary of current efforts toward electronic representation of scientific units in text, XML, and RDF, an analysis of needs for current computer/network systems, and an outline of future work.

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Scientific Units in the Electronic Age

  1. 1. Scientific Units in the Electronic Age Stuart J. Chalk, Department of Chemistry University of North Florida schalk@unf.edu CINF Paper 49 – 251st ACS Meeting Spring 2016 #ACSCINFDataSummit
  2. 2.  Why Do Computers Need to Know About Units?  What Do We Need?  Unit Systems  Implementation of Units for Computers  Text Units  XML Units  Semantic Units  What We Really Need  Things To Do  Conclusion Outline From: http://unitsml.nist.gov/Presentations/UnitsML_for_TC.pdf
  3. 3.  Computers are used to represent data  Data is not useful unless it has a context – meaning  Part of the context of data is its unit of measure  Publication of scientific data – it needs definitive units! Why do Computers Need to Know About Units? From: http://www.slideshare.net/petermurrayrust/text-and-data-mining-explained-at-ftdm
  4. 4. What Do We Need?  A way to uniquely identify and give meaning to units…  …and dimensions, quantities, properties(?)  A way to uniquely identify and give meaning to fundamental constants and conversion factors  Must describe the semantics of prefixes  Must accommodate all languages (spoken and computer)  Must be usable at different levels of technology  Must be unit system agnostic  Must be as future-proof as possible (extensible/adaptable)
  5. 5. What Do We Need?  A standards organization to host a platform providing unambiguous representations of any unit of measure  Tools/services to allow identification of units that can be used to represent the same quantity  Tools/services to allow systems to interconvert units and provide a mechanism to document the conversion  Must be compliant with the tools/services supporting big data and the semantic web
  6. 6. From: http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/pdf/SIDiagramColor.pdf
  7. 7.  International System of Units (SI)  Including CGS and MKS  UK Imperial System  US Customary Units  Burmese  Indian  Astronomical Units  Troy (mass) Units  Historical/Obsolete Units and Unit Systems https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_obsolete_units_of_measurement Unit Systems
  8. 8. Implementations of Units for Computers  Text String  XML (Tagged Text)  Semantically (URI)
  9. 9.  International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) http://www.ivoa.net/documents/VOUnits/  Standardization of string representations of unit labels (“VOUnits”) in the astronomy community Text String Representation From: http://www.ivoa.net/documents/VOUnits/20140523/VOUnits-REC-1.0-20140523.pdf
  10. 10.  MathML (https://www.w3.org/TR/mathml-units)  Presentation of Units  Unit Symbols in Content MathML  Conversion of Units XML Representation <apply> <divide/> <csymbol definitionURL='http://.../units/meter#c>cm</csymbol> <csymbol definitionURL='http://.../units/second>s</csymbol> </apply> <apply> <times/> <csymbol definitionURL='http://.../units/meter#c>cm</csymbol> <apply> <power/> <csymbol definitionURL='http://.../units/second>s</csymbol> <cn type='integer'>-1</cn> </apply> </apply> <csymbol definitionURL='http://.../units/kyne'>kyn</csymbol>
  11. 11.  Geographic Markup Language (GML) http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/gml  Provides  Unit References (“unitOfMeasure” element)  Unit Definitions (“unitDefinition” element)  “BaseUnit”, “DerivedUnit”, and “ConventionalUnit” XML Representation <gml:DerivedUnit gml:id="m3"> <gml:identifier codeSpace=“…/?iid=79">cubic metre</gml:identifier> <gml:quantityType>Volume</gml:quantityType> <gml:derivationUnitTerm uom="#m" exponent="3"/> </gml:DerivedUnit>
  12. 12.  Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishing (STTML) Part of the Chemical Markup Language (CML) http://cml.sourceforge.net/schema/ XML Representation <stm:unit id="second" name="second" unitType="time"> <stm:description>The SI unit of time</stm:description> </stm:unit> <stm:unit id="newton" name="newton" unitType="force”> <stm:description>The SI unit of force</stm:description> </stm:unit> <stm:unit id="g" name="gram" unitType="mass" parentSI="kg" multiplierToSI="0.001" abbreviation="g”> <stm:description>0.001 kg.</stm:description> </stm:unit> <stm:unit id="inch" name="inch" parentSI="meter" abbreviation="in" multiplierToSI="0.0254" > <stm:description>An imperial measure of length</stm:description> </stm:unit>
  13. 13.  UnitsML http://unitsml.nist.gov/  NIST Project – intended to be published as a standard under OASIS  Fundamental representation of dimensions, units, quantities  UnitsDB a symbiotic project (internal to NIST)  Never formally standardized under OASIS… …and NIST ran out of funding XML Representation
  14. 14. XML Representation From: http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/42538/UnitsML-Guide-v1.0-wd01.pdf
  15. 15. XML Representation From: http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/42538/UnitsML-Guide-v1.0-wd01.pdf
  16. 16. XML Representation <units xmlns="http://units.nist.gov/2003/01/units/SI" xmlns:q="http://units.nist.gov/2003/01/quantities" xmlns:usym="http://units.nist.gov/2003/01/symbols/units”> <unit commonName="meter" unitID="unit0001" symbol="m"> <system type="base">SI</system> <name xml:lang="en-US">meter</name> <name xml:lang="en-GB" >metre</name> <name xml:lang="fr" >mètre</name> <unitSymbolRef unitSymbolIDRef="usym:symbol0001">m</unitSymbolRef> <quantityRef quantityIDRef="q:quantity0001" /> <history href="http://…">…</history> <definition href="http://…">…</definition> <remarks href="http://…">…</remarks> </unit> </units>
  17. 17. XML Representation <quantity quantityID="quantity0001” commonName="length” type="base"> <name xml:lang="en-US">length</name> <quantSymRef quantSymbolIDRef="qsym:symbol0001">l</quantSymRef> <dimSymRef dimSymbolIDRef="dsym:symbol0001">L</dimSymRef> <unitSIRef unitSIIDRef="SI:unit0001" /> </quantity> <prefix prefixID="prefix0004" commonName="mega" symbol="M” power="6" system="SI" base="10"> <name xml:lang="en-US" >mega</name> <prefixSymbolRef prefixSymbolIDRef="psym:symbol0004" /> </prefix> <dimensionSymbols xmlns="http://units.nist.gov/2002/01/symbols/dimensions" > <dimensionSymbol dimensionSymbol ID="symbol0001" commonSymbol="L"> <symbolFont family="sans-serif" style="normal" weight="bold">L</symbolFont> </dimensionSymbol> <dimensionSymbol dimensionSymbol ID="symbol0005" commonSymbol="Θ"> <symbolFont family="sans-serif" style="normal" weight="bold">Θ</symbolFont> </dimensionSymbol> </dimensionSymbols>
  18. 18.  “Semantics” - the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning  Rather than just identify a unit, indicate the meaning of a unit  Resource Description Framework (RDF)  Subject-Predicate-Object “triples”  RDF-XML (https://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-syntax-grammar/)  JSON-LD (JSON for Linked Data)  Ontological Definitions Semantic Representation
  19. 19.  Units of Measure Ontology (UO) https://github.com/bio-ontology-research-group/unit-ontology http://www.ontobee.org/ontology/UO Semantic Representation
  20. 20.  Semantic Web for Earth and Environmental Technology (SWEET) http://sweet.jpl.nasa.gov/  “SWEET 2.3 is highly modular with 6000 concepts in 200 separate ontologies.” Semantic Representation
  21. 21.  Quantities, Units, Dimensions and Data Types Ontology (QUDT)  Version 1 http://www.qudt.org/  Version 2 http://www.linkedmodel.org/doc/2015/DOC_schema-qudt-v2.0  Space Time Vocabulary http://qudt.org/vocab/unit/units-space-and-time.html  Physical Chemistry and Molecular Physics Vocabulary http://qudt.org/vocab/unit/units-physical-chemistry-and- molecular-physics.html Semantic Representation
  22. 22. Semantic Representation
  23. 23. Semantic Representation
  24. 24. Semantic Representation
  25. 25. Semantic Units Model From: http://www.allhands.org.uk/2006/proceedings/papers/614.pdf
  26. 26. Semantic Units Model From: http://www.allhands.org.uk/2006/proceedings/papers/614.pdf
  27. 27. Semantic Units Model From: http://www.allhands.org.uk/2006/proceedings/papers/614.pdf
  28. 28.  A Metrology Ontology! What Do We Really Need? From: http://ontology.iupac.org/ontology.pdf
  29. 29. Official Metrology Definitions From: http://www.bipm.org/utils/common/documents/jcgm/JCGM_200_2012.pdf
  30. 30.  Write up a summary of current state of units  Develop a proposal to implement units in computers based on best features of existing work  Development of a metrology ontology (33 results on google – none are a general ontology for metrology)  Evaluate support technology needed to implement the ontology  Identify specific use cases and implement solutions  Formalize as a standard, with use cases and example implementations  Applicable for text, XML, and Semantic formats…  ...databases, ELNs, instrument software, Things To Do
  31. 31.  schalk@unf.edu  Phone: 904-620-5311  Skype: stuartchalk  LinkedIn/Slidehare: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuchalk  ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0703-7776  ResearcherID: http://www.researcherid.com/rid/D-8577-2013 Questions?

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