Relationship structures and semantic type assignments of the UMLS enriched semantic network

Li Zhang, Michael Halper, Yehoshua Perl, James Geller, James J. Cimino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: The Enriched Semantic Network (ESN) was introduced as an extension of the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Semantic Network (SN). Its multiple subsumption configuration and concomitant multiple inheritance make the ESN's relationship structures and semantic type assignments different from those of the SN. A technique for deriving the relationship structures of the ESN's semantic types and an automated technique for deriving the ESN's semantic type assignments from those of the SN are presented. Design: The technique to derive the ESN's relationship structures finds all newly inherited relationships in the ESN. All such relationships are audited for semantic validity, and the blocking mechanism is used to block invalid relationships. The mapping technique to derive the ESN's semantic type assignments uses current SN semantic type assignments and preserves nonredundant categorizations, while preventing new redundant categorizations. Results: Among the 426 newly inherited relationships, 326 are deemed valid. Seven blockings are applied to avoid inheritance of the 100 invalid relationships. Sixteen semantic types have different relationship structures in the ESN as compared to those in the SN. The mapping of semantic type assignments from the SN to the ESN avoids the generation of 26,950 redundant categorizations. The resulting ESN contains 138 semantic types, 149 IS-A links, 7,303 relationships, and 1,013,876 semantic type assignments. Conclusion: The ESN's multiple inheritance provides more complete relationship structures than in the SN. The ESN's semantic type assignments avoid the existing redundant categorizations appearing in the SN and prevent new ones that might arise due to multiple parents. Compared to the SN, the ESN provides a more accurate unifying semantic abstraction of the UMLS Metathesaurus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-666
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics


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