The University of Buffalo is a world center of research in applied ontology, opening the doors for our graduate students to successful careers in informatics and data science in fields such as biomedicine, finance, defense and security.
Ontology is a foundational discipline of philosophy that has its origins in ancient Greece and is represented in our own day by the work of analytical metaphysicians such as David Armstrong and Kit Fine.
Ontology in this philosophical sense is a theoretical discipline. It is (roughly) the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes and relations in every area of reality.
UB Philosophers with a primary focus in ontology include:
Ontology is also, however, a rapidly growing practical discipline at the intersection of philosophy and information science. Ontological tools and theories are increasingly being applied in bio- and medical informatics, in intelligence, defense and security analysis, in industry, publishing, finance, and other fields, where they serve as a basis for improved classifications, information integration, and automatic reasoning.
The UB Department of Philosophy, as an international center of ontological research, is involved in collaborative projects with ontologists throughout the world, including the IEEE Standard Upper Ontology Project and the GOL (General Ontological Language) Project of the University of Leipzig.
Ontological research in Buffalo is currently centered on the ontological applications in medicine and biology, geographic information science, defense and security ontology, on the ontology of artifacts, and on a range of topics in applied ontology.
Ontologists in Buffalo are supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and other agencies, and this provides opportunities for students to become involved in funded research.
Students interested in this fast-growing field who wish to acquire a background in the theory and practice of ontology may apply for the M.A. in Philosophy with specialization in Ontology and Information Science. This interdisciplinary program, offered by the Department of Philosophy of the University at Buffalo, allows students to work with relevant faculty in Computer Science and Engineering, Geography, Informatics, Linguistics, and the Life Sciences.
We aim to train professionals who will understand the work that ontologists do and will have the ability to apply ontological theories to a broad range of problems. Graduates of Buffalo ontology programs have excellent placement opportunities in both government and industry.