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Introductions to Formal Concept Analysis
A Short Introduction
Formal Concept Analysis is a theory of data analysis which identifies
conceptual structures among data sets. It was introduced by Rudolf
Wille in 1982 and has since then grown rapidly. Three well-established
annual international conferences (ICFCA, ICCS and CLA) are dedicated to
FCA and related methods.
The FCA method of formal data analysis has successfully
been applied to many fields, such as medicine and psychology, musicology,
linguistic databases, library and information
science, software re-engineering, civil engineering, ecology, and others.
A strong feature of Formal Concept Analysis is its capability of producing
graphical visualizations of the
inherent structures among data. Especially for social scientists, who
often handle data sets that cannot fully be captured in quantitative
analyses, Formal Concept Analysis extends the scientific toolbox of
formal analysis methods. Statistics and Concept Analysis complement
each other in this sense.
In the field of information science there is a further application: the
mathematical lattices that are used in Formal Concept Analysis
can be interpreted as classification systems.
Formalized classification systems can be analysed according to
the consistency of their relations. Thesauri can automatically be
constructed from classes and their attributes, without having to create a
hierarchy of classes by hand. As an example, an on-line library catalog
using the Conceptual Diagrams of an automatically constructed class
hierarchy has been implemented in the ZIT library in Darmstadt.
An example of Formal Concept Analysis
An example of a formal context and a concept lattice (Galois lattice):
Copyright 2007. Uta Priss
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