Thesaurus Term Selector

David E. Wojick dwojick at HUGHES.NET
Tue Mar 13 12:28:09 EDT 2007

Sylvan (and all),

Information regarding the thesaurus component of OSTI Word Web can be found here 

OSTI Word Web has two distinct but integrated component networks. I liken them to a blimp suspended by a net, which in turn hangs from a single hook. The blimp is the Energy Technology Data Exchange energy subject thesaurus. Its central network is the 200,000 term-term relations linking about 20,000 terms. It was developed initially in 1973 and is now maintained jointy by ETDE and INIS, both international consortia.

Regarding the net holding up the blimp, the thesaurus also includes about 3500 mini-taxonomies, based on "narower than-broader than" term-term pairs. Each mini-taxonomy has a broadest term. Over the last few years OSTI's William Watson has constructed an overarching taxonomy of science and technology, such that every path leads down to one of these broadest terms. Because many terms are used in more than one place in science there are about 45,000 paths in total. Of course the taxonomy is a tree structure, with other interesting features I will not go into now.  Watson's taxonomy is the net from which the thesaurus blimp is supsended. 

What OSTI identifies as a "Thesaurus Term Selector" is actually the whole Word Web, not just the thesaurus component. So far as I know OSTI has nothing about this amazing project online. Queries should be addressed to William Watson -- WatsonW at

Regarding the terms you did not find, bear in mind that this is an energy subject thesaurus. If you can identify an area of energy or nuclear science or technology where these terms are actively used then you can submit a poposal to have them included.


>I had fun with your Thesaurus Term Selector.
>Can you provide a URL to a paper that gives the details of the underlying data and methodology?
>I played with the selector search feature. I was looking for the existence of well-know established term relationships in your data set. One of the things I looked for was the well established relationships among the terms 'power laws', 'scaling laws', fractals and chaos. All scaling laws are power laws they are used to characterize fractal and chaotic systems. I found that neither the term 'power law' or 'power laws' existed and it was not obvious to me that I could navigate my way from among the terms scaling laws, chaos and fractals using the explorer. Is this what you would expect?
>>In fact we have started doing Pajek mapping of Word Web. In this case we 
>are looking at the diffusion
>>of an idea in a network of ideas, not a network of people.
>Well it could be argued that ideas are only generated by people hence a network of ideas is a network of people :)
>Dr. J. Sylvan Katz, Visiting Fellow
>SPRU, University of Sussex
>Adjunct Professor
>Mathematics & Statistics, University of Saskatchewan
>Associate Researcher
>Institut national de la recherche scientifique, University of Quebec


"David E. Wojick, Ph.D." <WojickD at>
Senior Consultant -- The DOE Science Accelerator
A strategic initiative of the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, US Department of Energy

(540) 858-3150 
391 Flickertail Lane, Star Tannery, VA 22654 USA provides my bio and client list. presents some of my own research on information structure and dynamics. 

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