EDUCE Overview Copyright 2009 Nikolas S. Boyd.
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Possession Discovery


Replace each genitive case with an appropriate verb to form a complete predicate.


The genitive case often hides a substantive verb that can be revealed through appropriate analysis or inference. Exposing the (sometimes hidden) relationships between domain elements increases the value of domain analysis, offering the opportunity for further modeling and steps toward a more natural and comprehensive solution design.


Use possession discovery when


The genitive (possessive) case relates two nouns or noun phrases. The genitive case uses the preposition of or the possessive form ('s) to indicate ownership, possession, property, containment, or aggregation.

Identifying the nature of the relationship hidden by use of the genitive case helps to determine whether to model the elements of the relationship as separate objects or whether the object of the relationship should become an attribute of the subject. The importance of these distinctions to domain modeling has been raised by others.

Category Example (genitive => verb)
possession the hair of the dog => a dog has hair (as a physical attribute)
property the color of a car => a car body has a color (as a property)
ownership a library's book => a libray owns a book
containment drums of chemicals => a drum contains a chemical
aggregation a bicycle's pedals => a bicycle has pedals (as parts)


Once you've discovered the kind of relationship hidden by the genitive case, you'll want to extract it using an isolated verb. However, if the genitive phrase is embedded in another clause, you'll need to use clause summary to extract it. Fortunately, summarizing such clauses as descriptive noun phrases is usually straightforward. Consider the following examples:

dog hair = a dog has hair
car body color = a car body has a color
library book = a library owns a book
chemical drum = a drum contains a chemical
bicycle pedals = a bicycle has pedals