Friend of a Friend with Benefits ontology (FOAF+): extending a social network ontology for public health

Muhammad Amith, Kayo Fujimoto, Rebecca Mauldin, Cui Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Dyadic-based social networks analyses have been effective in a variety of behavioral- and health-related research areas. We introduce an ontology-driven approach towards social network analysis through encoding social data and inferring new information from the data. Methods: The Friend of a Friend (FOAF) ontology is a lightweight social network ontology. We enriched FOAF by deriving social interaction data and relationships from social data to extend its domain scope. Results: Our effort produced Friend of a Friend with Benefits (FOAF+) ontology that aims to support the spectrum of human interaction. A preliminary semiotic evaluation revealed a semantically rich and comprehensive knowledge base to represent complex social network relationships. With Semantic Web Rules Language, we demonstrated FOAF+ potential to infer social network ties between individual data. Conclusion: Using logical rules, we defined interpersonal dyadic social connections, which can create inferred linked dyadic social representations of individuals, represent complex behavioral information, help machines interpret some of the concepts and relationships involving human interaction, query network data, and contribute methods for analytical and disease surveillance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number269
JournalBMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Disease surveillance
  • HIV
  • Ontology
  • Public health
  • Social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics


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