Temporal reasoning and temporal data maintenance in medicine: Issues and challenges

Carlo Combi, Yuval Shahar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


We present a brief, nonexhaustive overview of research efforts in designing and developing time-oriented systems in medicine. The growing volume of research on time-oriented systems in medicine can be viewed from either an application point of view, focusing on different generic tasks (e.g. diagnosis) and clinical areas (e.g. cardiology), or from a methodological point of view, distinguishing between different theoretical approaches. In this overview, we focus on highlighting methodological and theoretical choices, and conclude with suggestions for new research directions. Two main research directions can be noted: temporal reasoning, which supports various temporal inference tasks (e.g. temporal abstraction, time-oriented decision support, forecasting, data validation), and temporal data maintenance, which deals with storage and retrieval of data that have heterogeneous temporal dimensions. Efforts common to both research areas include the modeling of time, of temporal entities, and of temporal queries. We suggest that tasks such as abstraction of time-oriented data and the handling of different temporal-granularity levels should provide common ground for collaboration between the two research directions and fruitful areas for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-368
Number of pages16
JournalComputers in Biology and Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1997


  • Clinical data
  • Medical informatics
  • Temporal abstraction
  • Temporal databases
  • Temporal maintenance
  • Temporal reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics


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