I’m not going to explicitly comment on the panel discussion at ISWC08, entitled An OWL 2 Far? Let’s simply say it was controversial. I don’t mind controversial panels. In fact, I think that few things are more boring than a panel where all panelists more or less agree. But at the same time, at the ISWC08 panel, I think, an important message got lost, namely that we really need reasoning for the Semantic Web, and that we need diversity in reasoning. (Admittedly, some people said so, but I think the message didn’t really get through.)
So, instead, let me give you some web search problems. They all came up in my real life, so they are not artificially created. It seems to me that the Semantic Web should make answering them easier, but with the existing web resources, they are really difficult.
- Find all papers having received best paper awards at ISWC conferences. I did that today, and it took me more than 30 minutes. And I’m not sure if I got all of them – indeed I would have missed one of them if I hadn’t known beforehand about that specific paper having received the award. Isn’t this a typical Semantic Web problem? (The results of my search are further below.)
- There’s an owl-like bird in southern German woods, and in colloquial german it’s called Käuzchen. Try to find out the english name for this bird. I actually failed, though I think I got close to the answer when I merged web search with an external knowledge base (in form of a biologist I happen to know). And actually, simply going to Wikipedia and clicking on the English link is not enough, since I’m not looking for the Strix genus of owls, but rather for a particular bird …
- Who is this researcher with the russian looking name who worked on resolution-based methods for the description logic EL? This also looks like a typical Semantic Search problem, which shouldn’t be too difficult if you have the corresponding knowledge (and background knowledge) available. I admit I failed on this one using traditional methods (unless you consider it a traditional method to ask Franz Baader by email about it.)
- Are lobsters spiders? I.e. are lobsters classified as spiders by biologists? This one is actually tougher than you would think using traditional methods. Should be easy using Semantic Web knowledge bases and some simple reasoning, shouldn’t it?
For all these tasks (and many others), it seems to be apparent that Semantic Web Reasoning – and the availability of corresponding knowledge bases – would make the finding of answers much easier. The current reality of the Semantic Web is still quite a bit away from this. But we’re working on it.
Finally, as promised, the results of my inquiry about the ISWC best paper awards:
- 2004: Y. Guo, Z. Pan, and J. Heflin, An Evaluation of Knowledge Base Systems for Large OWL Datasets. This one compares different semantic web reasoners.
- 2005: The award was split that year. One half was awarded to P. Mika, Ontologies Are Us: A Unified Model of Social Networks and Semantics. The other half was awarded to B. Motik, On the Properties of Metamodeling in OWL. Edit: Apologies to Peter Mika. I accidently forgot his paper and mentioned instead a paper which won the best paper award at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers 2005, which is also abbreviated ISWC. It’s now been corrected. We definitely need Semantic Search!
- 2006: H. Chen, Y. Wang, H. Wang, Y. Mao, J. Tang, C. Zhou, A. Yin, Z. Wu, Towards a Semantic Web of Relational Databases: a Practical Semantic Toolkit and an In-Use Case from Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- 2007: D. Zeginis, Y. Tzitzikas and V. Christophides, On the Foundations of Computing Deltas Between RDF Models. This one is about a diff for RDF, and it involves RDF inferencing.
- 2008: M. Horridge, B. Parsia and U. Sattler, Laconic and Precise Justifications in OWL.
So why did I dig these awards out? Because I noticed that among these 6 papers there are 3 which are explicitly concerned with OWL. And the 2007 paper involves RDF inferencing. Talk about the importance of reasoning for the Semantic Web …
Author: Pascal Hitzler, AIFB, University of Karlsruhe (TH), Germany