Monday, June 04, 2007

ESWC 2007 - European Semantic Web Conference, Innsbruck (Day 01)

Today, the 4th European Semantic Web Conference starts in Innsbruck (Austria). I arrived already yesterday in the evening by train. By chance, I already met 2 other participants (Pascal Hitzler and Andreas Hotho ... -> bibsonomy) while waiting at Munich train station. Thus, the last part of the train ride was quite entertaining :)

Keynote 1 - 9.00 -10.00
Day 1 of ESWC 2007 is starting with a keynote of Stefano Ceri on 'Design Abstractions for Innovative Web Applications: the case of the SOA augmented with Semantics'. Sorry to say, but -- at least for me -- the talk was not really interesting. Since I am not so much interested in Semantic Web Services, I decided to spent the rest of the morning sessions (after the coffee break) in the Ontology Learning, Inference and Mapping session. In parallel there are session on Semantic Web Services and Semantic Web Use Cases (unfortunately in areas also not very interesting for me, i.e. mechatronics and e-Governement). But, I'm looking forward to the Ontology Engineering session....

Ontology Engineering I - 10.30 - 12.30
The Ontology Engineering session starts with Martin Hepp on 'GenTax: A Generic Methodology for Deriving OWL and RDF-S Ontologies from Hierarchical Classifications, Thesauri, and Inconsistent Taxonomies', where he is referring to a novel methodology for automatically deriving consistent RDF-S and OWL ontologies from informal hierarchies. He demonstrated the usefullness of the approach by utilizing it for transforming the two e-business categorization standards eCl@ss and UNSPSC into ontologies. The approach is based on drawing a random sample from an input classification, letting a human user confirm/reject/adapt the sample, and using this confirmed sample as a basis for further automated classification. The tool will be available here soon.

The second talk is presented by Maciej Janik on 'SPARQLeR: Extended Sparql for Semantic Association Discovery'. Semantic Associations (i.e. complex semantic relationships among entities) in knowledge bases have to be discovered, which comes to the process of finding paths of possibly unknown length that connect the given entities and have a specific semantics. SPARQL for querying RDF databses is extended for the discovery of such paths including the possibility of formulating regular expressions over properties for specifying the required semantics of the queried paths.

Eyal Oren from DERI Galway is speaking about 'Algorithms for Predicate Suggestions using Similarity and Co-Occurrence'. Only through shared vocabularies can meaning be established. Tagging Systems solve this problem by tag suggestions to achieve coherrent vocabulary. The same principle holds for creating distributed RDF databases. Therefore, two domain-independent algorithms for recommending predicates (RDF statements) about resources, based on statistical dataset analysis (i.e. on similarity and co-occurrence). Both algortihms are implemented in ActiveRDF.

Johanna Völker from AIFB Karlsruhe concludes the session with 'Learning Disjointness'. So, why disjointness is important? Of course disjointness axions allows infering new knowledge or modelling errors. But, most ontologies today don't provide disjointness axioms. Based on machine learning, an approach is presented to automated generation of disjointness axioms to be included into ontologies.

Lunchbreak -- as being in Austria I tried the traitional 'Schnitzel' (compared to German Schnitzel, Austrian Schnitzel are very flat :) )

Keynote 2 - 14.00 - 15.00
The afternoon session starts with a keynote given by Ning Zhong from Knowledgne Information System Laboratory on Ways to Develop Human-Level Web Intelligence: A Brain Informatics Perspective. Interesting thing, because I am very curious to know what 'Brain Informatics' should be... First, it's about Web Intelligence (WI). Short Definition: Web Intelligence = Artificial Intelligence + IT. Brain Informatics - on the other hand - is a new interdisciplinary field to study human information processing mechanisms systematically. It's on the intersection of cognitive science, neuro science and WI. The (H)uman brain is regarded as a (I)nformation (P)rocessing (S)ystem (HIPS). There is a gab between WI and Brain Science....
Ok....a little bit too much for me. After several (large) pictures of brains (but few content) I decided to spent the rest of the session down in the lobby. Another interesting phenomenon to mention: computer scientists gather around power outlets (at least in the afternoon, when all the batteries are getting low...)

Best paper Award Session - 15.00 - 16.00
Ok...the battery is back at 42% and the sessions continue with the best paper awards. This time, there are two best papers. The first is presented by Renee Witte from IPD Karlsruhe on 'Empowering Software Maintainers with Semantic Web Technologies'. One of the main challenges in software maintenance is to establish and maintain the semantic connections among all the different artifacts. Basically, the main contibution of the paper is on how Semantic Web technologies can deliver a unified representation (ontologies) to explore, query and reason about a multitude of software artifacts, mainly source code and other ducoments, for being deployed in security analysis, architectural evolution, and traceability recovery between source code and documents....Alas, what is still missing is a standard semantic enabled software development enviroment (e.g. as eclipse plugin...).
The other best paper is presented by Claudio Gutierrez on 'Minimal Deductive Systems for RDF'. We all use RDF for basic knowledge representation. Ofcourse - at least at first sight - RDF documents do look a little bit...lets say...complicated. But, have you ever thought about RDF containing redundancy that can be removed? That's what the authors propose by abandoning some of the RDF predicates while in the same time maintaining its semantic expressiveness. Thus, they obtain a streamlined fragment of RDFS which includes all the vocabulary that is relevant for describing data, avoiding vocabulary and semantics that theoretically corresponds to the definition of the structure of the language. Ok....but do we really want to abandon RDF and substitute it with this RDF core? As brilliant as the paper and the idea is, I guess (and so did also one of the questions to Claudio) in practice it will be only of little relevance..

Personalization I / Social Semantic Web - 16.30 - 18.00
For the 2nd afternoon session I have to switch between two of the parallel sessions. I start with the Personalization session and after the first talk I switch to Social Semantic Web.
Alistair Duke from Next Generation Web Research Group presents a talk on 'Squirrel: An Advanced Semantic Search and Browse Facility'. Squirrel is a tool for searching and browsing semantically annotated data. To achieve this, Squirrel provides combined keyword based search (providing ease of use and speed) and (powerful) semantic search in a hybrid approach. They comine several interesting technologies such as ontology management, named entity recognition on ontology generation and classification to enable features such as result consolidation, natural language generation, ontology based user profiling and device independence.

Ok...searching for the 'Saal Strassburg' was a little bit difficult (because of the missing signs). Thus, I am a little bit late for Jerome Euzenat's talk on 'Towards Semantic Social Networks'. He introduces a Semantic Social Network theory, based on a threelayered model, which involves the network between people (social network -> social layer), the network between the ontologies they use (ontology network -> ontology layer) and a network between concepts occurring in these ontologies ( -> concept layer). He proposes a similarity measure between concepts and is propagating this similarity to a distance and an alignment relation between ontologies (using these concepts). In addition, this distance relation can be used for discovering affinity in the social network (finding people that think the same way as you do...possibly).
The last talk of today is given by Nicholas John Kings on 'Knowledge Sharing on the Semantic Web'. 'The Semantic Web is Dead....', people just do tagging. With a slide like this, for sure you will get some attention (at a Semantic Web conference)...and Nicholas did :) After this eye-catching introduction, he introduces 'Squidz' a tool for automatically classifying browsed web pages against an ontology ('Spyware on Steroids...')), and allowing users to share comments made about those pages to members of a community. After all, the project is intended to test the hypothesis that information sharing is more effective when the software is aware of both the social and technical context of that information. Thus, leading to a hybrid approach combining folkosonies (free annotations of web pages) with formal ontologies.

So....just looking forward to the poster session (and the included dinner of course) and another power outlet, because the batteries are down to 8%(!).

[ok...switching to day 02 .... again trying to achieve 'live blogging'...]