Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Designing semantic software by numbers

24.06.2008
A system for creating semantic software could transform application development from a cottage industry to an industrial-style production line.

Semantic applications are the next frontier for information science, but creating them is very difficult. Now, European researchers in the NeOn project are developing tools that will make it easier to create semantic applications, powerful programs that identify data not just by their textual content, but also by the information’s relevance to users.

The tools they created are being tested by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and by Spain’s pharmaceutical industry. The FAO, a project partner, is testing the tools as a means of creating an over-fishing alert system as a means of improving the management of the world’s fisheries. (See part two of this two-part article – ‘Semantic technologies help world’s fisheries’)

In Spain, pharmaceutical companies are testing the NeOn tools as a means of allowing the industry to share data resources and exchange information on diseases, epidemiology, treatments, and other medical issues.

Enormous potential
Right now, searching a computer or the internet works by using filenames or keywords, but people still need to sort the results for relevance. This sorting process can become a huge task when assessing large datasets of closely related information like the information typically kept by the world’s major corporations, governments and institutions.

Semantic software promises to revolutionise information science. Semantic applications could be used to turn massive amounts of data into machine-readable, easily identifiable and actionable information.

With semantic applications, searchers can find resources by what data means, its context, relevance and connotations, because the information is machine-readable. Computers can understand the data.

Semantic applications work by using metadata, descriptions of information. The metadata is stored in dictionaries, called ontologies.

An ontology defines the concepts and relationships used to describe and represent a domain of knowledge. An ontology specifies standard conceptual vocabularies with which to exchange data among networked systems, provide services for answering queries, publish reusable knowledge bases, and offer services to allow interoperability across multiple systems and databases.

Ontologies make it possible for machines to find valuable information currently buried in databases and on Web pages, saving time. More importantly, the applications access information that might otherwise be missed, and can find unsuspected connections between different pieces of information.

Such applications can also sort a vast dataset in seconds, a task that could take humans days, weeks or months to do.

A quantum leap
There is just a big problem. Developing semantic applications is a difficult, costly and time-consuming process. Currently, developers work as a kind of cottage industry – at a small-scale and loosely organised.

Ontologies are difficult to develop and manage. Little support exists for collaboration so individuals or small teams do most of the work. There is no standard way for re-using existing semantic resources.

There are many projects that have, at the cost of great effort, resulted in semantic applications. However, the NeOn team is creating what is called a ‘development environment’ that will make the design of semantic applications much simpler.

While Henry Ford created a paradigm shift in manufacturing by implementing production lines in his factory, NeOn’s researchers intend to create a similar shift in the development of semantic applications.

Their strategy is the difference between making just one car and employing a production line so that lots of people can work together to make more cars quicker.

“NeOn’s goal is to make a quantum leap in the level of support for semantic application development,” explains Enrico Motta, the project’s coordinator. “We want to create an industrial strength development environment that gives software engineers all the tools they need to create semantic applications easily.”

There are three main thrusts to the researcher’s work: a toolkit, a methodology and case studies. All three tasks feed into each other.

As the tools are developed, the methodology becomes more defined. The researchers then test and refine both the tools and the methodology in case studies with the FAO and the Spanish pharmaceutical industry.

The NeOn researchers are tackling every aspect of semantic application development. One team is working on the dynamics of managing and updating ontologies across networks, a major innovation.

Other researchers are working on developing collaborative tools, so distant teams can work together. A third group is studying how ontologies can be adapted to different applications or contexts.

Finally, the researchers are looking at human-ontology interaction.

“Traditionally, semantic applications forgot about the human beings,” says Motta. “NeOn is also looking at the way people interact with these novel technologies, their issues and expectations.”

Novel studies
The project team conducted novel empirical studies to determine how developers worked and the problems they encountered in designing semantic applications. Then the researchers developed solutions, new tools or methods to create such applications simply and easily. The toolkit they developed can accept plugins, the software modules used to extend the functionality of specific software.

The project just entered the third year of its four-year term, and already the researchers have developed working prototypes. The researchers plan to continue the work after the lifetime of the project, which ends in early 2010.

“The NeOn platform is open source software, which means people can change and adapt it,” says Motta. “We are currently setting up the NeOn Foundation to foster a community around the technology. This will ensure it gets maintained, updated and improved over time.”

A free prototype is already available for download. But by the end of the NeOn project, which received funding from the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for research, the team plans to have created a fully-functional, development environment for semantic applications.

This article is part one of a two-part feature on NeOn.

Ahmed ElAmin | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/89812

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Study suggests buried Internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise
18.07.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers
17.07.2018 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>