Advanced Knowledge Technologies Meet the Challenges of the Semantic Web

Yun-Heh Chen-Burger1, Kieron Oˇ¦Hara2

1Informatics, The University of Edinburgh,

2Department of Electronics and Computer Science,

The University of Southampton

 

As information is becoming more abundantly available through the World Wide Web (WWW), the need for more effective storage, retrieval and presentation methods of such information becomes more prominent. Equally important are the capabilities for extraction and thus utilisation of the underlying knowledge that is often deeply embedded in the information mass that has been made available. Technologies related to such capabilities are often referred to as Knowledge Technologies.  One interesting application area for such technologies is the Semantic Web, that emphasises the intelligent manipulation of the knowledge that is made available via the web. 

Richard Benjamins, et al [5] described in this journal six challenges of the Semantic Web (SW) as being the availability of semantic web content; the availability, development and evolution of ontologies; scalability of managing knowledge content; multilingual information access; visualisation; and semantic web language stability. They make the challenges as well as opportunities of the SW admirably clear.

The Advanced Knowledge Technologies (AKT) project [1] has looked at issues of the creation, extraction, derivation and dissemination of knowledge at all points of the knowledge management life cycle, including knowledge acquisition and modelling, reuse, retrieval and publishing, right through to the tricky issues of maintaining knowledge repositories. These knowledge technologies interact with the Semantic Web and therefore had to address all the challenges described by Benjamins, et al. For instance, many AKT technologies exploit state-of-the-art natural language processing techniques, both to extract content from large-scale unstructured texts, and to publish human-readable as well as machine-processable content from structured repositories; such techniques will support multilingual data [3][9] [10][11].

On the other hand, decentralised web services powered by underlying semantically rich processing methods that may be flexibly coupled with specialised problem solvers can address some of the scalability issues [6][8][12][15]. Creation, evolution and utilisation of knowledge models [7] and ontologies play a central role for most of the AKT work and remain a main focus for its vision [4][13][14]. The AKT Reference Ontology provides a set of coherent ontological modules that may be used complimentary to suit individual applications [2]. In addition, many AKTors play prominent roles on various SW standards committees, and so are helping shape the future of the web and its languages.

Throwing technologies at the SW alone will not by itself realise SWˇ¦s full potential; social aspects of information/knowledge handling need to be understood by technology designers and adopted by its users. Part of AKTˇ¦s work is thus to look at the behaviour of communities that may (or may not) operate with the assistance of WWW/SW. Social theories and practices are being borrowed and adapted to strengthen technologies that are being offered to such communities [16][17].

Ultimately, the opportunity that the SW affords is to provide easier access to information and knowledge stored in many heterogeneous sources. This power of obtaining knowledge is combined with shared and collaborative distributed computational capabilities to assist both humans and software, that may scatter in different geographical areas, in achieving their goals. AKT contributes towards this goal by providing a wide spectrum of Semantic Web related advanced research as well as practical applications. One of its results, the CS AKTive Space [11] won the 2003 Semantic Web Challenge competition and was awarded at the International Semantic Web Conference in Florida ˇV show that the effort will be well worth it.

This paper includes some of AKTˇ¦s work; for more information, its official website at http://www.aktors.org lists approximately 50 selected technologies, together with reader-friendly descriptions of the real-world knowledge problems they are intended to address.

Acknowledgement

This work is supported under the Advanced Knowledge Technologies (AKT) Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC), which is sponsored by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under grant number GR/N15764/01, and runs from 2000-2006. It comprises the University of Aberdeen, the University of Edinburgh, the Open University, Sheffield University and the University of Southampton. The director is Professor Nigel Shadbolt of Southampton. The AKT IRC research partners and sponsors are authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints and on-line copies for their purposes notwithstanding any copyright annotation hereon. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of other parties. 

References

[1] Advanced Knowledge Technologies: http://www.aktors.org.

[2] AKT Reference Ontology: http://www.aktors.org/publications/ontology/.

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