Representing Contextualized Relationships: A Research System for Digital HPS

Researchers in the field of history of science investigate the origin and development of concepts and their significance for scientific change. Contemporary research makes extensive use of textual data, images, or videos. This project focuses on developing a software system for researchers in the field of history and philosophy of science (referred to as “Quadriga System”) that provides researchers with tools that allow them to pursue their research in ways and at scales that were not possible before, enabling big data approaches in history and philosophy of science.

One of the research questions of this project focuses on the transformation of textual data into a “computer-understandable” format. The approach of the Quadriga System is to transform information into contextualized relationship triples, so-called “quadruples.” We have designed the quadruple data model and implemented a prototype of an application called Vogon that is used to extract quadruples from texts.

Quadruples form semantic networks that can be used to develop advanced search engines that answer questions such as “who has stated that Darwin travelled on the Beagle?” Furthermore, we can develop various software tools to analyze and visualize such networks. Examples include applications that will help researchers to construct and compare network representations of scientific theories and to use these to study the change of scientific concepts, or software tools that support the analysis of document similarity based on these networks. We have implemented a prototype of the Quadriga System that stores and visualizes quadruple networks and provides searching functionality.