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

FYI. This press release crossed the wire at 11:30. It had review from 
DanC, Sandro, Eric Miller, Jim Hendler, and Danny Weitzner. Please keep 
in mind that it's a press release, not a white paper - and so it has 
simplifications that you may not like or agree with.

Congratulations on getting the work done.


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 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 -- 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 17:25:12 UTC