Data models have been with us since Ted Codd described normalization in 1970 and Peter Chen published his paper on entity relationship diagrams in 1976. Ontology as a discipline in philosophy can trace its roots to ancient Greece. As applied to data management, it is much more recent than data modeling and has only appeared in the past few years. But just what is the difference between ontologies and data models? If they are both about data, do they not boil down to the same thing?

I think they are different and have different practical applications. That is, you need both of them to do data management well, rather than one being able to eliminate the other. Given that many people practice either one or the other, it is appropriate to ask what evidence exists that supports this opinion, and to answer that we need to first consider what data models and ontologies are.

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