Discovering business rules is a complex task for which many approaches have been proposed including analysis, extraction from code, and data mining. In this paper, a novel approach is presented in which business rules for an enterprise model are generated based on the semantics of a domain ontology. Starting from an enterprise model for which the business rules need to be defined, the approach consists of four steps: (1) classification of the enterprise model in terms of the domain ontology (semantic annotation), (2) matching of the enterprise model constructs with ontology-based Enterprise Model Configurations (EMCs), (3) determination of Business Rule Patterns (BRPs) associated with the EMCs, and (4) use of the semantic annotations to instantiate the business rule patterns; that is, to specify the actual business rules. The success of this approach depends on two factors: (1) the existence of a semantically rich domain ontology, and (2) the strength of the knowledge base consisting of EMC-BRP associations. The focus of this paper is on defining and illustrating the new business rule discovery approach: Ontology-Driven Business Rule Specification (ODBRS). The domain of interest is enterprise systems, and an extended version of the Resource-Event-Agent Enterprise Ontology (REA-EO) is used as the domain ontology. A small set of EMC-BRP associations—i.e., an example knowledge base—is developed for illustration purposes. The new approach is demonstrated with an example.

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