Tutorial “Formal Concept Analysis”

by Gerd Stumme


13th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management

EKAW 2002

Siguenza (Spain)

September 30,  2002



Formal Concept Analysis (FCA) is a method for deriving conceptual structures out of data. These structures can be graphically represented as conceptual hierarchies, allowing the analysis of complex structures and the discovery of dependencies within the data. FCA is increasingly applied in conceptual clustering, data analysis, information retrieval, knowledge discovery, and ontology engineering; it has been used in over 200 projects up to now.


Formal Concept Analysis is based on the philosophical understanding that a concept is constituted by two parts: its extension which consists of all objects belonging to the concept, and its intension which comprises all attributes shared by those objects. This understanding allows to derive all concepts from a given context (data table) and to introduce a subsumption hierarchy. The source data can be reconstructed at any given time, so that the interpretation of the data remains controllable.


Formal Concept Analysis arose twenty years ago as a mathematical theory. Its focus has turned during the past years: nowadays FCA papers are presented almost exclusively at computer science conferences. There have been several papers related to FCA at the KAW and EKAW workshops in the past years. The tutorial aims at introducing researchers from related areas (such as knowledge representation, ontology engineering, knowledge capturing) to the basics of FCA The purpose of the tutorial is to extend and to strengthen the interaction between these research areas and FCA.



Tutorial Description


The tutorial provides an introduction into the basics of FCA. In order to get experience with this knowledge representation method, the participants will do practical training on given data stocks. The different uses of FCA in data analysis, information retrieval, and knowledge discovery will be discussed along some typical applications.


The objective of the tutorial is to survey the basics of the mature mathematical theory of Formal Concept Analysis, and to motivate and explain its emerging use in AI research and applications. The tutorial is suitable to the general EKAW audience. No special knowledge is needed as the tutorial is self-contained. It should be of interest to theoreticians and practitioners from knowledge representation, ontology engineering, knowledge management, knowledge discovery, information retrieval, data analysis, machine learning, and the general EKAW audience interested in this growing research area.



Resume of Gerd Stumme


Dr. Gerd Stumme

Institut für Angewandte Informatik und

Formale Beschreibungsverfahren (AIFB)

Universität Karlsruhe (TH)

D-76128 Karlsruhe






Gerd Stumme is senior researcher at the Institute of Applied Informatics and Formal Description Methods (AIFB) at the University of Karlsruhe. He received his PhD from Darmstadt University of Technology, where he co-worked for several years with Rudolf Wille, the founder of Formal Concept Analysis. Gerd Stumme published over 40 papers on Formal Concept Analysis. He also chaired several conferences about Formal Concept Analysis.