Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


WONDERWEB Report Summary

Project ID: IST-2001-33052
Funded under: FP5-IST
Country: United Kingdom


To realize the vision of the Semantic Web, the Web Ontology Working
Group was chartered to develop a standard language for expressing semantics on the web. The Web Ontology Language (OWL) comprises a standardized syntax for exchanging ontologies and specifies the semantics of the language, i.e. how the syntactic structures are to be interpreted.

However, it is unclear precisely how to slice the pie between the disciplines of syntax and semantics in applications. Support for OWL in applications involves understanding how syntax and semantics interact (i.e., their interface). A number of issues relating to this split continually re-occur in the design of Semantic applications, e.g. in the development of OntoEdit, OilEd and KAON.

The provision of APIs allows developers to work at a higher level of abstraction, and isolate themselves from some of the problematic issues related to serialization and parsing of data structures. Our experience has shown that application developers can interpret language specifications such as DAML+OIL in subtly different ways, and confusion reigns as to the particular namespaces and schema versions used. The direct use of higher level constructs can also help to alleviate problems with "round tripping" (Round tripping refers to the process where a data structure (e.g. an ontology) is serialized and deserialized to/from some concrete syntax without loss of information) that occur when using concrete transport syntaxes based on RDF.

The OWL API attempts to present a highly reusable component for the construction of different applications such as editors, annotation tools and query agents. Besides allowing them to "talk the same language", it ensures that they share underlying assumptions about the way that information is presented and represented. Thus a cornerstone to the successful implementation and delivery of the Semantic Web, namely the interoperability of applications is achieved.

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University of Manchester
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