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The FRISCO report

The FRISCO Report is completed in 1996 and is published as a Web version in 1998. A widely accepted theory of information systems (IS) is still missing. The FRISCO report, by the IFIP task group “FRamework of Information System COncepts”, is a first step towards such a theory.

FRISCO is founded in 1988 to provide “clear, simple and unambiguous definitions of and a terminology for the most fundamental concepts” that are used in IS.

Among the major achievements of this report are:

  • it builds on a solid basis formed by semiotics and ontology.
  • it defines a collection of more than 100 core concepts in a coherent and consistent way.
  • Information systems are more than just pure technical artifacts. FRISCO introduces an interdisciplinary, socio-technical view of information systems.

The semiotic basis

The FRISCO approach, that tries to bridge the gap between "reality" and its modeling concepts, is based on semiotics, the theory of signs, their syntax, semantics and pragmatics. The whole framework is anchored in the semiotic triangle that is extended by FRISCO to a tetrahedron placing in actor in its centre.

Figure 1. The semiotic tetrahedron of FRISCO.

FRISCO’s ontology

The problem of terminological circularity is solved by starting with an overall ontology. A number of basic assumptions reflects the general world view of the FRISCO authors. FRISCO has built a world ontology in a well-founded philosophical context.

"FRISCO helps to understand the basic concepts of IS better than before. This implies in particular a better understanding of the relation of symbols to reality."

H. Kangasslo

Members of the former FRISCO Task Group



Wolfgang HESSE






Alex Verrijn-Stuart

Klaus VOSS

More information

The FRISCO Report (PDF)


Hesse, Wolfgang/Verrijn-Stuart, Alex: Towards a Theory of Information Systems: The FRISCO Approach, 10th European-Japanese Conference on Information Modeling and Knowledge Bases, Saariselkä, Finland, May 8-11, 2000.

E.D. Falkenberg, W. Hesse, P. Lindgreen, B.E. Nilsson, J.L.H. Oei, C. Rolland, R.K. Stamper, F.J.M. Van Assche, A.A. Verrijn-Stuart, K. Voss, FRISCO : A Framework of Information System Concepts, The IFIP WG 8.1 Task Group FRISCO, December 1996.

Hesse, Wolfgang: Information System Concepts based on semiotics and ontology: The FRISCO Approach