Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Laying the foundation for the next-generation Web

30.03.2005


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.


Significant results above and beyond the stated objectives of the project have also been achieved, according to project coordinator Professor Ian Horrocks. These include the development of techniques for the semi-automatic annotation of dynamic websites and the investigation of alternative reasoning techniques.

Towards standardisation

One of the more important contributions of WonderWeb to the ongoing development of the Semantic Web is the standardisation of the OWL ontology language, which is now a fully-fledged recommendation of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Explaining the significance of OWL, Ian Horrocks described it as a “Description Logic-based knowledge representation language,” with the typical advantages of such languages. Among its benefits, OWL:

  • supports modelling of the structure of the domain (the schema, or ontology) as well as the details of some particular situation (the data);
  • is very powerful and allows for detailed and precise domain models (ontologies) to be captured;
  • supports powerful data and schema level queries, e.g. find all men working at Manchester University whose boss is a woman (data) or is it possible for a man working at Manchester University to have a woman as a boss (schema);
  • allows implicit information to be derived from explicitly stated facts about the schema and the data, e.g. a man working at Manchester University who is married to his boss could be inferred to be an answer to the above query even if the gender of the boss isn’t explicitly stated (provided the schema (ontology) tells us that men can only be married to women).

“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
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Deep Learning predicts hematopoietic stem cell development
21.02.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Sensors embedded in sports equipment could provide real-time analytics to your smartphone
16.02.2017 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>