Theory and Applications of Ontologies

Thursday 28 February 2013 at 07:06 am.

Course TitleTheory and Applications of Ontologies                              

Proposer:  Dr P Sreenivasa Kumar, Professor, CSE Dept, IIT Madras


The current day world-wide web is a large collection of HTML documents inter-connected by hyperlinks. Its main purpose is to enable human information seekers to browse, assimilate the contents and make use of it in appropriate ways. The popular mode of accessing the huge amount of information present on the web is through the use of search engines. However, search engines find it very difficult to keep the index that maps keywords to the set of relevant documents up-to-date. Thus, our ability to access information is contingent on the capabilities of the search engine. In addition, search engines find it difficult to extract the semantics behind the search keywords, the context of the search. Making semantic sense of the documents is also a tall order at present. In this context, a new set of standards termed as Semantic Web Technologies have emerged recently and it is believed that adopting these would take us forward towards making better sense of the information present on the web, interoperate information sources, and represent knowledge from diverse domains of interest.

Course Contents:

Semi-structured Data and the XML framework: Need for semi-structured data, Relevance as a data model and in data integration, the XML framework, Document Type Definitions (DTDs), XML Schema, Storing and querying XML data, XPATH, XSLT, XQUERY languages. Limitations of the XML framework.

Theory behind Ontologies: Description Logics (DLs), the attributive language with complement (ALC), ALC with Negation (ALCN), Specific DLs – SROIQ, and SHIQ;  Semantics of Description Logics; Inference in DLs, the tableaux algorithms.

Semantic Models and Knowledge Bases: Elements of Semantic Web Technology – Resource Description Framework (RDF); Ontology Frameworks – RDF Schema, Ontology Web Language (OWL); Ontology tools – Protégé; Query languages for semantic data – SPARQL language; Principles of Linked Data, Linked Data Cloud; Triple stores and indexing RDF data.

Applications of Ontologies: Semantic search, Ontologies for information integration, ontologies for question answering systems.

Programming assignments: Developing DTDs, Using XPATH 2.0, XQUERY and XSLT; Developing ontologies using OWL and Protégé, Querying using SPARQL, OWLAPI etc


  1. Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist – Effective modeling in RDFS and OWL (Second Edition), Dean Allemang and Jim Hendler, Morgan Kaufman, 2011.
  2. Foundations of Semantic Web Technologies, Pascal Hitzler, Sebastian Rudolph and Markus Kroetzsch, Chapman & Hall / CRC Textbooks in CS, 2010.
  3. The Semantic Web Primer (Second Edition), Grigoris Antoniou and Frank van Harmelen, MIT Press, 2008.