The Semantic Web lies at the heart of Tim Berners-Lee’s vision for the future of the Web, enabling a wide range of intelligent services. Thanks to the development of the infrastructure needed for the large-scale deployment of ontologies as the bedrock of the Semantic Web, that vision is much closer to reality.
Ontologies provide the lifeblood of the Semantic Web by defining shared and common domain theories, and allowing people and machines to communicate more effectively. They also play a crucial role in enabling content-based access, interoperability and communication across the Web.
In the three years since the WonderWeb IST project began, it has managed to meet – and in some cases exceed – all of its key objectives. These achievements include standardisation of the OWL ontology language, the development of the KAON ontology-engineering environment, the development of the WonderWeb ontology library and the development of an ontology modularisation framework.
“The important thing that OWL provides is a common standard for such a language with a precise formal specification,” adds Ian Horrocks. “OWL is to knowledge management systems what SQL is to database management systems. This allows tool and ontology interoperability, facilitates the rapid development of tools and infrastructure and gives users the confidence to devote major efforts to using OWL,” he said.
An engineering toolkit
In terms of tools and services, an important result of the project has been the development of KAON, an ontology-engineering environment, which has been downloaded by over 14,000 users, and the integration of a wide range of software components such as editors and reasoners. A completely new inference engine has also been developed in order to improve reasoning services for OWL applications. The result is a powerful and extensible ontology development environment.
Complementing KAON and tools is the WonderWeb ontology library, a rich collection of foundational ontologies and domain specific extensions. The library includes the DOLCE, OCRE and BFO foundational ontologies, as well as extensions covering areas such as Web services, plans, and descriptions and situations. An influential review of the current state-of-the-art in ontology design methodologies has also been produced.
Underpinning further research
While acknowledging the technical difficulties that are part-and-parcel of any such project, Ian Horrocks said that it was gratifying to see so much of the fundamental research underpinning WonderWeb finding its way into other initiatives.
“This was a basic research project so feeding results through to applications involves the usual technology transfer problems such as tool building, scalability and developing ‘industrial strength’ infrastructure from research prototypes. This is already happening, however, with ontology building tools such as Protege, which owes a lot to our pioneering work on the ontology editor OilEd, and commercial offerings such as those from Network Inference, which owes a lot to our work on reasoning infrastructure,” he said.
WonderWeb has also exercised considerable influence on current EC-funded FP6 projects, with the Descriptive Ontology for Linguistic and Cognitive Engineering, DOLCE, being used by aceMedia, Metokis, Semantic Mining and SmartWeb, among others. Many projects are also using the KAON environment and tools.
Although WonderWeb has now officially run its course, the technologies brought to life by the project are very much alive and kicking.
“OWL is already very widely accepted and used, even in commercial offerings, and is the de facto standard in many domains, such as e-Science for example, that are not directly related to the Semantic Web,” notes Ian Horrocks. “There are several extensions being discussed by W3C, and working groups have and are being established to take the work forward. For example there is a ‘best practices’ working group looking at application of OWL and RDF and a ‘data access’ working group looking at query languages and there is also going to be a W3C workshop on rules extensions to OWL in April with a view to starting up another working group,” he said.
As for the Semantic Web, Ian Horrocks is optimistic that the vision is moving slowly but surely towards reality. “The Semantic Web is still a research project, but the development of OWL and OWL-based infrastructure is seen as a huge success for Semantic Web research. This is now a major research community, and huge amounts of work are going into further developments,” he said.
Tara Morris | alfa
Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan
26.09.2017 | University at Buffalo
Stable magnetic bit of three atoms
21.09.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668
Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
26.09.2017 | Life Sciences
26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.09.2017 | Information Technology