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Semantic Web Applications

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2008-05-12 08:02:49     
Article by Peter Hale

In order to increase the use of Semantic Web technologies it is necessary to create applications that make use of the Semantic Web for practical applications. Enabling Modelling with Semantic Web technologies could encourage domain experts to fill ontologies with useful information, so generating more benefit from their use.

The use of Semantic Web languages as information representation and even as programming languages would assist greatly with interoperability as these modelling languages are standardised for use in a wide range of computer systems.

Research can bring together End-User Programming, Modelling and the Semantic Web approaches. An important area of research is a technique for end-user programming, that of allowing visual modelling of information. This corresponds to the type of work normally undertaken using spreadsheets. This research involves using Semantic Web technologies to enable end-user programming. The technology is applicable to any problem that involves user interaction, calculation, and modelling so it can be applied to a wider range of tasks and subject areas.

A methodology that involves structuring of information through Ontology and Semantic Web techniques and enabling end-user programming through visualisation and interaction aims to achieve effective production of generic models. Horrocks (2002) explains Semantic Web technologies and the use of agents and ontologies, and ontology representation languages. This demonstrates the linked nature of Ontology and Semantic Web research.

Berners-Lee and Fischetti (1999) sum up the advantage of a Semantic Web program over programs in other languages. They write, "The advantage of putting the rules in RDF is that in doing so, all the reasoning is exposed, whereas a program is a black box: you don't see what happens inside it." They discuss the use of Semantic Web languages as programming languages and explain the benefits declaring "The Semantic Web, like the Web already, will make many things previously impossible just obvious. Visual Semantic Web programming is one of those obvious things".

Berners-Lee et al. (2006) explain the importance of visualisation for navigation of information "Despite excitement about the Semantic Web, most of the world's data are locked in large data stores and are not published as an open Web of inter-referring resources. As a result, the reuse of information has been limited. Substantial research challenges arise in changing this situation: how to effectively query an unbounded Web of linked information repositories, how to align and map between different data models, and how to visualise and navigate the huge connected graph of information that results." The use of Semantic Web languages as programming languages would assist greatly with interoperability as these languages are standardised for use in a wide range of computer systems

The main advantage of open standard representation of information provided by the Semantic Web is that information can be transferred from one application to another. Additionally it provides a layered architecture that allows for a stepped translation from users to computer and back for conveying results of a modelling run. The program transformation approach argued for by Lieberman (2007) can be used to translate from a domain expert End-User Programmer abstraction to models represented by Semantic Web languages, ontologies and code.

Use of Semantic Web technologies is a means for open standard representation of collaborative models, transformation into different representations as required, and for provision of a high-level interface as a tool for model visualisation and system creation. Structuring of information through Ontology and Semantic Web techniques and enabling End-User Programming through visualisation and interaction can achieve effective production of generic models. Semantic Web technologies could assist greatly with Web based Simulation and Modelling. Kuljis and Paul (2001) evaluate progress in the field of web simulation. They argue the need for web-based simulations to be focussed on solving real-world problems in order to be successful. Miller and Baramidze (2005) establish that for a "simulation study that includes model building, scenario creation, model execution, output analysis and saving/interpreting results. Ontologies can be useful during all of these phases." Model-Driven Programming and the Semantic Web are explained by Frankel et al. (2004).

Research in the use and visualisation of Semantic Web information can provide the tools that end-user programmers have been lacking until recently, and these tools can be used for modelling. Crapo et al. (2002) assert the need for a methodology for creation of systems to enable more collaborative approaches to modelling by domain expert end-users, and that this combined with visualisation would allow engineers to model problems accurately.

Many organisations produce text based reports from their IT systems. But text based reports do not always show information well enough for good decision making. Automated conversion of these reports into Semantic Web languages could assist greatly with this. So a translation process is required and can be implemented as part of an overall User-Driven Modelling/Programming Approach. Once reports are converted to a standardised representation, hierarchical information can be represented as clickable trees and numerical representation as charts. This makes it possible to customise outputs from existing IT systems and so allows an improvement in readability of information without major changes to the way it's produced. This could provide a large gain at little cost.

References

Berners-Lee, T., Fischetti, M., 1999. Weaving the Web. Harper San Francisco; Paperback: ISBN:006251587X

Berners-Lee, T., Hall, W., Hendler, J., Shadbolt, N., Weitzner, D. J., 2006. Creating a Science of the Web. Science 11 August 2006:Vol. 313. no. 5788, pp. 769 - 771.

Crapo, A. W., Waisel, L. B., Wallace, W. A., Willemain, T. R., 2002. Visualization and Modelling for Intelligent Systems. In: C. T. Leondes, ed. Intelligent Systems: Technology and Applications, Volume I Implementation Techniques, 2002 pp 53-85.

Frankel, D., Hayes, P., Kendall, E., McGuinness, D., 2004. The Model Driven Semantic Web. In: 1st International Workshop on the Model-Driven Semantic Web (MDSW2004) Enabling Knowledge Representation and MDA® Technologies to Work Together.

Horrocks, I., 2002. DAML+OIL: a Reason-able Web Ontology Language. In: proceedings of the Eighth Conference on Extending Database Technology (EDBT 2002) March 24-28 2002, Prague.

Kuljis, J., Paul, R. J., 2001. An appraisal of web-based simulation: whither we wander?. Simulation Practice and Theory, 9, pp 37-54.

Lieberman, H., 2007. End-User Software Engineering Position Paper. End-User Software Engineering Dagstuhl Seminar.

Miller, J. A., Baramidze, G., 2005. Simulation and the Semantic Web. In. Proceedings of the 2005 Winter Simulation Conference.

Further Information on this research is at -

Semantic Web - http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/amrc/seeds/PeterHale/RDF/RDF.htm.

My Research - http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/~phale/

Modelling - http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/amrc/seeds/Modelling.htm

I am a Researcher in the final year of my PhD. I specialise in applying Semantic Web techniques. My current research is on a technique of 'User Driven Modelling/Programming'. My intention is to enable non-programmers to create software from a user interface that allows them to model a particular problem or scenario. This involves a user entering information visually in the form of a tree diagram. I am attempting to develop ways of automatically translating this information into program code in a variety of computer languages. This is very important and useful for many employees that have insufficient time to learn programming languages. I am looking to research visualisation, and visualisation techniques to create a human computer interface that allows non experts to create software.

More information on end user programming can be found at http://www.ieuc.org/home.html

Specialized in: Semantic Web - Human Computer Interaction - End User Development - Flash - Ajax - Xml - Visualisation - Svg - End-user Programming
URL: http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk
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