SSSW Day 1

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Today's invited speaker was Frank von Harmelen, co-editor of the OWL standard and author of the Semantic Web Primer. His talk was on fundamental research challenges generated by the Semantic Web (or: two dozen Ph.D. topics in a single talk). He had the idea after he was asked one day in the cafeteria "Hey Frank, whazzup in the Semantic Web?"

In the tradition of Immanuel Kant's four famous questions on philosophy, Frank posed the four big research challenges:

  • Where does the metadata come from?
  • Where do the ontologies come form?
  • What to do with the many different ontologies?
  • Where's the Web in the Semantic Web?

He derived many research questions that arise when you bring results from other fields (like databases, natural language, machine learning, information retrieval or knowledge engineering) to the Semantic Web and not just change the buzzwords, but take the implications that come along with the Semantic Web seriously.

Some more notes:

  • What is the semantic equivalent to a 404? How should a reasoner handle the lack of referential integrity?
  • Inference can be cheaper than lookup on the web.
  • Today OWL lite would probably have become more like OWL DLP, but they didn't know better than

The other talks were given by Asun Gómez-Pérez on Ontological Engineering, and Sean Bechhofer on Knowledge Representation Languages for the SemWeb, pretty good stuff by the people who wrote the book. I just wonder if it was too fast for the people who didn't know about it already, and too repeting for the others, but well, that's always the problem with these kind of things.

The hands-on session later was interesting: we had to understand several OWL ontologies and explain certain inferences, and Natasha Noy helped us with the new Protégé 3.1. It was harder than I thought quite some times. And finally Aldo Gangemi was giving us some exercises with knowledge representation design patterns, based on DOLCE. This was hard stuff...

Wow, this was a lot of namedropping. The social programme (we were hiking today) around the summer school, and the talks with the peers are sometimes even more interesting than the actual summer school programme itself, but this probably won't be too interesting for most of you, and it's getting late as well, so I just call it a day.

Originally published on Semantic Nodix

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