Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules

Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules

From 1.2 Applicability:

The SBVR specification is applicable to the domain of business vocabularies and business rules of all kinds of business activities in all kinds of organizations. It provides an unambiguous, meaning-centric, multilingual, and semantically rich capability for defining meanings of the language used by people in an industry, profession, discipline, field of study, or organization.

This specification is conceptualized optimally for business people rather than automated processing. It is designed to be used for business purposes, independent of information systems designs to serve these business purposes:

  • Unambiguous definition of the meaning of business concepts and business rules, consistently across all the terms, names and other representations used to express them, and across the natural languages in which those representations are expressed, so that they are not easily misunderstood either by “ordinary business people” or by lawyers.
  • Expression of the meanings of concepts and business rules in the wordings used by business people, who may belong to different communities, so that each expression wording is uniquely associated with one meaning in a given context.
  • Transformation of the meanings of concepts and business rules as expressed by humans into forms that are suitable to be processed by tools, and vice versa.
  • Interpretation of the meanings of concepts and business rules in order to discover inconsistencies and gaps within an SBVR Content Model (see 2.4) using logic-based techniques.
  • Application of the meanings of concepts and business rules to real-world business situations in order to enable reproducible decisions and to identify conformant and non-conformant business behavior.
  • Exchange of the meanings of concepts and business rules between humans and tools as well as between tools without losing information about the essence of those meanings.

I do need to repeat their warning from 6.2 How to Read this Specification:

This specification describes a vocabulary, or actually a set of vocabularies, using terminological entries. Each entry includes a definition, along with other specifications such as notes and examples. Often, the entries include rules (necessities) about the particular item being defined.

The sequencing of the clauses in this specification reflects the inherent logical order of the subject matter itself. Later clauses build semantically on the earlier ones. The initial clauses are therefore rather ‘deep’ in terms of SBVR’s grounding in formal logics and linguistics. Only after these clauses are presented do clauses more relevant to day-to-day business communication and business rules emerge.

This overall form of presentation, essential for a vocabulary standard, unfortunately means the material is rather difficult to approach. A figure presented for each sub-vocabulary does help illustrate its structure; however, no continuous ‘narrative’ or explanation is appropriate.


OK. so you aren’t going to read it for giggles. But you will be encountering it in the wild world of data so at least mark the reference.

I first saw this in a tweet by Stian Danenbarger.

Comments are closed.