Feeds

W3C OWL proposals take flight

Ontology. Not a word you see every day

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The World Wide Web Consortium's Web Ontology working group has published a working draft of the requirements for its Ontology Web Language (OWL). The working group, part of the W3C's Semantic Web activity, is chartered to create a language that extends the semantic reach of previous metadata efforts based on eXtensible Markup Language (XML) and Resource Description Framework (RDF).

This seemingly abstruse or even incomprehensible undertaking is actually essential if hopes for XML-based communication between enterprises are to be realized. In the current excitement about web services, it is all too often overlooked that there is no point being able to call someone if you cannot then speak their language.

Separate parts of distributed applications can communicate meaningfully because they were written by developers who at the very least shared a common "vocabulary" of constants and variables. An ontology defines the terms used to describe and represent an area of knowledge, and can range in sophistication from the declaration section of a Java program to metadata schemes like the Dublin Core.

As long as all the parts of a distributed software system are written by a team that shares a single set of data definitions, no fundamental problems arise.

With the advent of web services and service oriented architectures, however, this may no longer be the case. Some web service visions - including the W3C's own Semantic Web - assume that applications will be able to find and invoke services about which their developers knew nothing at all. This can only work if both parties agree on a single set of data definitions: hence the critical importance of shared ontologies.

The OWL requirements working draft identifies key issues such as the use and integration of multiple ontologies across different domains and services; different ontologies for each domain or service; and simple ontology representation. It states that "Ubiquitous Computing" will require "serendipitous interoperability" under unchoreographed" conditions. That is, devices that were not designed to work together should be able to discover each other's functionality and be able to take advantage of it.

It would be foolhardy to doubt the Semantic Web's feasibility - after all, its most famous advocate, W3C director Tim Berners-Lee, was successful with his last major project. But it seems destined to be a long-range project, which will have to crack some tough research problems before it bears fruit.

Shared ontologies are among the more fundamental of these problems, and it is reassuring that the web Ontology working group includes representatives of such organizations as Daimler Chrysler, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), EDS, Fujitsu, HP, Iona, Lucent, MITRE, Nokia, Philips, Stanford University, the University of Southampton, Unisys and W3C itself.

© ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved..

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.