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Proc AMIA Symp. 1998:947-51.

MHCWeb: converting a WWW database into a knowledge-based collaborative environment.

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Stanford Medical Informatics, Stanford University, CA 94305-5479, USA.


The World Wide Web (WWW) is useful for distributing scientific data. Most existing web data resources organize their information either in structured flat files or relational databases with basic retrieval capabilities. For databases with one or a few simple relations, these approaches are successful, but they can be cumbersome when there is a data model involving multiple relations between complex data. We believe that knowledge-based resources offer a solution in these cases. Knowledge bases have explicit declarations of the concepts in the domain, along with the relations between them. They are usually organized hierarchically, and provide a global data model with a controlled vocabulary. We have created the OWEB architecture for building online scientific data resources using knowledge bases. OWEB provides a shell for structuring data, providing secure and shared access, and creating computational modules for processing and displaying data. In this paper, we describe the translation of the online immunological database MHCPEP into an OWEB system called MHCWeb. This effort involved building a conceptual model for the data, creating a controlled terminology for the legal values for different types of data, and then translating the original data into the new structure. The OWEB environment allows for flexible access to the data by both users and computer programs.

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