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OWL: Web Ontology Language

OWL: Web Ontology Language
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Author(s): Adélia Gouveia (University of Madeira, Portugal) and Jorge Cardoso (SAP Research CEC Dresden, Germany and University of Madeira, Portugal)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 9
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch481


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The World Wide Web (WWW) emerged in 1989, developed by Tim Berners-Lee who proposed to build a system for sharing information among physicists of the CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. Currently, the WWW is primarily composed of documents written in HTML (hyper text markup language), a language that is useful for visual presentation (Cardoso & Sheth, 2005). HTML is a set of “markup” symbols contained in a Web page intended for display on a Web browser. Most of the information on the Web is designed only for human consumption. Humans can read Web pages and understand them, but their inherent meaning is not shown in a way that allows their interpretation by computers (Cardoso & Sheth, 2006). Since the visual Web does not allow computers to understand the meaning of Web pages (Cardoso, 2007), the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) started to work on a concept of the Semantic Web with the objective of developing approaches and solutions for data integration and interoperability purpose. The goal was to develop ways to allow computers to understand Web information. The aim of this chapter is to present the Web ontology language (OWL) which can be used to develop Semantic Web applications that understand information and data on the Web. This language was proposed by the W3C and was designed for publishing, sharing data and automating data understood by computers using ontologies. To fully comprehend OWL we need first to study its origin and the basic blocks of the language. Therefore, we will start by briefly introducing XML (extensible markup language), RDF (resource description framework), and RDF Schema (RDFS). These concepts are important since OWL is written in XML and is an extension of RDF and RDFS.

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