A lexical metaschema for the UMLS semantic network

Li Zhang, Yehoshua Perl, Michael Halper, James Geller, George Hripcsak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A metaschema is a high-level abstraction network of the UMLS's semantic network (SN) obtained from a partition of the SN's collection of semantic types. Every metaschema has nodes, called meta-semantic types, each of which denotes a group of semantic types constituting a subject area of the SN. A new kind of metaschema, called the lexical metaschema, is derived from a lexical partition of the SN. The lexical metaschema is compared to previously derived metaschemas, e.g., the cohesive metaschema. A new lexical partitioning methodology is presented based on identical word-usage among the names of semantic types and the definitions of their respective children. The lexical metaschema is derived from the application of the methodology. We compare the constituent meta-semantic types and their underlying semantic-type groups with the previously derived cohesive metaschema. A similar comparison of the lexical partition and a published partition of the SN is also carried out. The lexical partition of the SN has 21 semantic-type groups, each of which represents a subject area. The lexical metaschema thus has 21 meta-semantic types, 19 meta-child-of hierarchical relationships, and 86 meta-relationships. Our comparison shows that 15 out of the 21 meta-semantic types in the lexical metaschema also appear in the cohesive metaschema, and 80 semantic types are covered by identical meta-semantic types or refinements between the two metaschemas. The comparison between the lexical partition and the semantic partition shows that they have very low similarity. The algorithmically derived lexical metaschema serves as an abstraction of the SN and provides views representing different subject areas. It compares favorably with the cohesive metaschema derived via the SN's relationship configuration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-59
Number of pages19
JournalArtificial Intelligence in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Lexical partition
  • Metaschema
  • Semantic network
  • String matching
  • UMLS


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