May 28 – June 1 , 2012, Dagstuhl Seminar 12221

Cognitive Approaches for the Semantic Web


Dedre Gentner (Northwestern University – Evanston, US)
Pascal Hitzler (Wright State University – Dayton, US)
Kai-Uwe Kühnberger (Universität Osnabrück, DE)
Frank van Harmelen (VU University Amsterdam, NL)


Krzysztof Janowicz (University of California – Santa Barbara, US)

For support, please contact

Dagstuhl Service Team


Dagstuhl Report, Volume 2, Issue 5 Dagstuhl Report
List of Participants


The motivation of this seminar was to gather people from Semantic Web and Cognitive Science in order to determine the most promising ways to move forward on the vision of bringing findings from cognitive science to the Semantic Web, and to create synergies between the different areas of research. The seminar mainly focused on the use of cognitive engineering methods towards a more user-centric Semantic Web. However, the reverse direction, i.e., how Semantic Web research on knowledge representation and reasoning can feed back to the cognitive science community, was also discussed. Besides core members of the Semantic Web, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science communities, the researchers from fields that would benefit most from a more human-centric Semantic Web were also present. This especially included experts on Geographic Information Science (GIScience), the bioinformatics, as well as the digital humanities. While the invitations were balanced, most attending participants were from the Semantic Web, cognitive science, and GIScience communities.

The seminar consisted of three alternating blocks, short talks by the participants, work in breakout groups, and reports by the breakout groups followed by discussions among all participants. The short talks presented the participants' research or future ideas and were the inspiration for the topics discussed in the breakout groups. Each day had a distinct subtopic with respect to the combination of presenters and the formed breakout groups. while the task of the breakout groups differed, it was ensured that each of the 5-7 groups consists of members of all major research domains present at the meeting.

On May 29th, the first day of the seminar, Krzysztof Janowicz gave a short opening talk about the structure of the seminar. Next, Frank van Harmelen gave an overview talk about the Semantic Web, while Dedre Gentner introduced the cognitive science perspective focusing on work on analogies. After lunch, the participants, Rob Goldstone, Christian Freksa, Ken Forbus, Kai-Uwe Kühnberger, Alexander Mehler, Ute Schmid, Gudrun Ziegler, and Helmar Gust, all involved in cognitive science research, presented their work in short talks of 10 minutes. After these talks, breakout groups were formed. The task of each group was to develop a research proposal outline and present it to all participants.

On May 30th, the participants presented their results from the breakout groups. This second day was devoted to researchers from GIScience, bioinformatics, and the digital humanities, as well as work of researchers that already bridged between the Semantic Web and cognitive sickness. The presenters were Andrew Frank, Werner Kuhn, Aldo Gangemi, Cory Henson, David Mark, Krzysztof Janowicz, Giancarlo Guizzardi and Simon Scheider. In the afternoon, the participants formed new breakout groups based on the presented topic. The task was to develop user interfaces and user interaction paradigms that exploit Semantic Web reasoning on the one side and analogy and similarity-based reasoning on the other side. Finally, the groups reported back to all participants and discusses synergies.

May 31st, started with additional domain talks and was then followed by presentations of core Semantic Web researchers. Presentations were given by Sören Auer, Lael Schooler, Willem Robert van Hage, Zhisheng Huang, Stephan Winter, Christoph Schlieder, Jens Ortmann, Ken Forbus, Alan Bundy, Benjamin Adams, Jérôme Euzenat, Claudia d'Amato, Sebastian Rudolph, Wei Lee Woon and Pascal Hitzler. In the afternoon, the breakout groups were formed to discussed how Cognitive Science can benefit from Semantic Web research. The task was to design an experiment (in most cases involving human participants). Afterwards the breakout group reported back to all participants.

June 1st, last day of the seminar, started with two longer talks (each about 30 min.) that reported back on what Semantic Web researchers learned from cognitive scientists during the meeting as well as the other way around. The first presenter was Jérôme Euzenat representing his view as Semantic Web researcher on the lessons learned. The second presentation was given by Rob Goldstone to illustrate the lessons learned by the cognitive science community. Finally, the seminar concluded with general discussions on future research and feedback about the seminar.


  • Semantics/formal Methods
  • Society/HCI
  • Artificial Intelligence/robotics


  • Cognitive methods
  • Semantic web
  • Analogy and similarity-based reasoning
  • Semantic heterogeneity and context
  • Symbol grounding
  • Emerging semantics
  • Commonsense reasoning


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


Download overview leaflet (PDF).

Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.