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Representing The Umls Semantic Network Using


The Metathesaurus is a very large, multi-purpose, and multi-lingual vocabulary database that contains information about biomedical and health related concepts, their various names, and the relationships among them. It is built from the electronic versions of many different thesauri, classifications, code sets, and lists of controlled terms used in patient care, health services billing, public health statistics, indexing and cataloging biomedical literature, and /or basic, clinical, and health services research. In this documentation, these are referred to as the "source vocabularies" of the Metathesaurus. In the Metathesaurus, all the source vocabularies are available in a single, fully-specified database format.

The Metathesaurus is organized by concept or meaning. In essence, its purpose is to link alternative names and views of the same concept together and to identify useful relationships between different concepts. All concepts in the Metathesaurus are assigned to at least one semantic type from the Semantic Network. This provides consistent categorization of all concepts in the Metathesaurus at the relatively general level represented in the Semantic Network. Many of the words and multi-word terms that appear in concept names or strings in the Metathesaurus also appear in the SPECIALIST Lexicon. The lexical tools are used to generate the word, normalized word, and normalized string indexes to the Metathesaurus. MetamorphoSys must be used to install the Metathesaurus files and is the recommended software tool for customizing the Metathesaurus for specific purposes.

The semantic types are the nodes in the Network, and the relationships between them are the links. There are major groupings of semantic types for organisms, anatomical structures, biologic function, chemicals, events, physical objects, and concepts or ideas. The current scope of the UMLS semantic types is quite broad, allowing for the semantic categorization of a wide range of terminology in multiple domains.

The SPECIALIST Lexicon has been developed to provide the lexical information needed for the SPECIALIST Natural Language Processing System (NLP). It is intended to be a general English lexicon that includes many biomedical terms. Coverage includes both commonly occurring English words and biomedical vocabulary. The lexicon entry for each word or term records the syntactic, morphological, and orthographic information needed by the SPECIALIST NLP System.

The lexical programs or tools are designed to address the high degree of variability in natural language words and terms. Words often have several inflected forms which would properly be considered instances of the same word. The verb "treat," for example, has three inflectional variants:

Multi-word terms in the Metathesaurus and other controlled vocabularies may have word order variants in addition to their inflectional and alphabetic case variants. The lexical tools allow the user to abstract away from this sort of variation.