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News release: World Wide Web Consortium Issues Web Ontology Language Candidate Recommendations

From: Janet Daly <janet@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 08:36:29 -0700
Message-ID: <3F4243FD.1010505@w3.org>
To: w3c-news <w3c-news@w3.org>

Today, W3C's Web Ontology Working Group released OWL - the Web Ontology 
Langauge - as a Candidate Recommendation, soliciting additional input 
from developers and implementers.

"OWL is an important step for making data on the Web more machine 
processable and reusable across applications," explained Tim 
Berners-Lee. As such, it serves as a foundation for the Semantic Web.

For more information and interviews, please contact Janet Daly, W3C Head 
of Communications, at janet@w3.org or +1 617 253 5884.


Web resources:

This Press release:


The suite of Six OWL Documents:

OWL Web Ontology Language Overview
OWL Web Ontology Language Test Cases
OWL Web Ontology Language Use Cases and Requirements
OWL Web Ontology Language Guide
OWL Web Ontology Language Reference
OWL Web Ontology Language Semantics and Abstract Syntax


World Wide Web Consortium Issues Web Ontology Language Candidate 

Emerging Ontology Standard, OWL, strengthens Semantic Web Foundations

http://www.w3.org/ -- 19 August 2003 -- Today, the World Wide Web 
Consortium (W3C) issued Web Ontology Language (OWL) as a W3C Candidate 
Recommendation. Candidate Recommendation is an explicit call for 
implementations, indicating that the document has been reviewed by all 
other W3C Working Groups, that the specification is stable, and 
appropriate for implementation.

OWL is a language for defining structured, Web-based ontologies which 
enable richer integration and interoperability of data across 
application boundaries. Early adopters of these standards include 
bioinformatics and medical communities, corporate enterprise and 
governments. OWL enables a range of descriptive applications including 
managing web portals, collections management, content-based searches, 
enabling intelligent agents, web services and ubiquitous computing.

"OWL is an important step for making data on the Web more machine 
processable and reusable across applications, " said Tim Berners-Lee, 
W3C Director. "We're encouraged to see OWL already being used as an open 
standard for deploying large scale ontologies on the Web."

OWL is specified in 6 documents: The OWL Overview; OWL Semantics and 
Abstract Syntax; OWL Use Cases and Requirements; OWL Test Cases, OWL 
Guide, and the OWL Reference. Read the FAQ for more details on OWL.

OWL Delivers Ontologies that Work on the Web

OWL is a Web Ontology language. Where earlier languages have been used 
to develop tools and ontologies for specific user communities 
(particularly in the sciences and in company-specific e-commerce 
applications), they were not defined to be compatible with the 
architecture of the World Wide Web in general, and the Semantic Web in 

OWL rectifies this by using both URIs for naming and the linking 
provided by RDF to add the following capabilities to ontologies:

     * Ability to be distributed across many systems
     * Scalable to Web needs
     * Compatible with Web standards for accessibility and 
     * Open and extensible

OWL provides a language for defining structured, Web-based ontologies 
which delivers richer integration and interoperability of data among 
descriptive communities.

OWL builds on RDF Model and Schema and adds more vocabulary for 
describing properties and classes: among others, relations between 
classes (e.g. disjointness), cardinality (e.g. "exactly one"), equality, 
richer typing of properties, characteristics of properties (e.g. 
symmetry), and enumerated classes.

Already there are multiple implementations and demonstrations of OWL, 
which are available to the public.

The OWL Documents Produced by W3C

The W3C Web Ontology Working Group has produced six OWL documents. Each 
is aimed at different segments of those wishing to learn, use, implement 
or understand the OWL language. Documents include - a presentation of 
the use cases and requirements that motivated OWL - an overview document 
which briefly explains the features of OWL and how they can be used - a 
comprehensive Guide that walks through the features of OWL with many 
examples of the use of OWL features - a reference document that provides 
the details of every OWL feature - a test case document, and test suite, 
providing over a hundred tests that can be used for making sure that OWL 
implementations are consistent with the language design - a document 
presenting the semantics of OWL and details of the mapping from OWL to 
RDF.The Candidate Recommendation phase for the OWL documents is 
estimated to last at least four weeks, at which time the Working Group 
will evaluate new implementations and comments on the drafts.

OWL's Place in the Architecture of the Semantic Web: XML, RDF, and 

Much has been written about the Semantic Web, as if it is a replacement 
technology for the Web we know today. In fact, the Semantic Web is made 
through incremental changes, by bringing machine-readable descriptions 
to the data and documents already on the Web. With both descriptions and 
ways to connect, compare, and contrast them, it's possible to build 
applications, tools, search engines, agents - all with no apparent 
change to Web pages.

W3C's Semantic Web Activity builds on work done in other W3C Activities, 
such as the XML Activity. Its focus is to develop standard technologies, 
on top of XML, that support the growth of the Semantic Web.

At the foundation, XML provides a set of rules for creating vocabularies 
that can bring structure to both documents and data on the Web. XML 
gives clear rules for syntax; XML Schemas then serve as a method for 
composing XML vocabularies. XML is a powerful, flexible surface syntax 
for structured documents, but imposes no semantic constraints on the 
meaning of these documents.

RDF - the Resource Description Framework - is a standard a way for 
simple descriptions to be made. What XML is for syntax, RDF is for 
semantics - a clear set of rules for providing simple descriptive 
information. RDF Schema then provides a way for those descriptions to be 
combined into a single vocabulary. What's needed next is a way to 
develop subject - or domain - specific vocabularies. That is the role of 
an ontology.

An ontology defines the terms used to describe and represent an area of 
knowledge. Ontologies are used by people, databases, and applications 
that need to share subject-specific (domain) information - like 
medicine, tool manufacturing, real estate, automobile repair, financial 
management, etc. Ontologies include computer-usable definitions of basic 
concepts in the domain and the relationships among them. They encode 
knowledge in a domain and also knowledge that spans domains. In this 
way, they make that knowledge reusable.

Industrial and Academic Leaders Move OWL Forward

The W3C Web Ontology Working Group carries a complement of industrial 
and academic expertise, lending the depth of research and product 
implementation experience necessary for building a robust ontology 
language system. Participants include representatives from Agfa-Gevaert 
N. V; Daimler Chrysler Research and Technology; DARPA; Defense 
Information Systems Agency (DISA); EDS; Fujitsu; Forschungszentrum 
Informatik (FZI); Hewlett Packard Company; Ibrow; IBM; INRIA; Ivis 
Group; Lucent; University of Maryland; Mondeca; Motorola; National 
Institute of of Standards and Technology (NIST); Network Inference, 
Nokia; Philips, University of Southampton; Stanford University; Sun 
Microsystems; Unicorn Solutions along with invited experts from German 
Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) Gmbh; the 
Interoperability Technology Association for Information Processing, 
Japan (INTAP); and the University of West Florida.

OWL brings together research from a number of groups that have been 
developing languages in which to express ontological expressions on the 
web. OWL has its origins in two major research efforts: a draft language 
known as the DARPA Agent Markup Language Ontology notations (DAML-ONT) 
and Ontology Interface Layer (OIL) developed by European researchers 
with the support of the European Commission. Since then, an ad hoc group 
of researchers formed the Joint US/EU committee on Agent Markup 
Languages and released a new version of this language which merges DAML 
with the OIL. The documents released today reflect the collaborative 
work of international researchers with industrial participants working 
together the World Wide Web Consortium.

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing 
common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its 
interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run 
by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the 
European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) 
headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided 
by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World 
Wide Web for developers and users, and various prototype and sample 
applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, nearly 400 
organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see 
Received on Tuesday, 19 August 2003 14:23:39 UTC

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