19. – 24. März 2000, Dagstuhl-Seminar 00121

Semantics for the Web


D. Fensel (Karlsruhe), J. Hendler (Maryland), H. Lieberman ( MIT, Cambridge), W. Wahlster (DFKI, Saarbrücken)

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Dagstuhl-Seminar-Report 269


The World-wide Web (WWW) has drastically changed the availability of electronically available information. Currently there are around 300 million static documents in the WWW which are used by more than 80 million users internationally. In addition, this number is growing astronomically. In 1990, the WWW began with a small number of documents as an in-house solution for around thousand users at CERN. By 2002, the standardization committee for the WWW (called W3C) expects around a billion web users and a even higher number of available documents. However, this success and exponential grow makes it increasingly difficult to find, to access, to present, and to maintain the information of use to a wide variety of users. There is a wide gap between the information available for tools that try to address the problems above and the information kept in human readable form. In addition to difficulties in information retrieval, automatization of electronic commerce is seriously hampered by the way information is currently presented.

There is an emerging awareness that providing solutions to these problems requires that there be a machine understandable semantics for some or all of the information presented in the WWW. Achieving such a semantics requires to develop languages for expressing machine understandable meta information for documents, to develop terminologies (i.e., name spaces or ontologies) using these languages and making them available on the web, to integrate and translate different terminologies, and to devele tools that use such languages and terminologies to provide support in finding, accessing, presenting and maintaining information sources. These are wide ranging problems that touch on the research areas of a broad variety of research communities. Therefore this seminar will bring together colleagues from these different research communities (who would typically not meet at area conferences or other workshops that are more methodologically driven). These include researchers in the areas of databases, intelligent information integration, knowledge representation, knowledge engineering, information agents, knowledge management, information retrieval, meta data, web standards (RDF, XML, XML-QL, XSL), and others.

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