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What is Semantic Web? Definition, Problems & Benefits

semantic web

What is Semantic Web?

Semantic Web is first coined by Tim Berners-Lee. It is the extension of the World Wide Web (WWW) set by the World Wide Web Consortium. The main aim of the semantic web is to make internet data machine-readable. “Semantic Web” refers to W3C’s vision of the Web of linked data. This technology enables people to create data stores on the web, build vocabularies, and write rules for handling data. Linked data are empowered by technologies such as RDF, SPARQL, OWL, and SKOS.

Semantic web pages not only store content as a set of unrelated words in a document but also code their meaning and structure. Figure 1 illustrates that Semantic Web languages are based on XML and go up the Semantic Web Language Pyramid to RDF [Lassila et al], RDFS [Brickley et al], OIL [Horrocks et al], DAML+OIL [DAML+OIL], etc.

Web Language Pyramid

These languages are much richer than HTML that allow meaningful representation and structure of the content (interrelationships between concepts).

The vision of Semantic Web

The main motto of the semantic web is to structure the internet data in such a way that it is easier for computers to understand. This technology provides software programs with machine-interpretable metadata of the information. This way, computers can me own meaningful interpretation as humans do with the natural brain.

According to the W3C, “The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries.”

Problems/Challenges of Semantic Web

  • The availability of the content
  • Ontology, Availability, Development, and Evolution
  • Scalability of the Semantic Web Content
  • Multilinguality
  • Visualization – to reduce information overload
  • Semantic Web Languages Standardization

What is Web Ontology Language (OWL)?

Web Ontology Language is a technology that enables the encoding of semantics with the data. Along with OWL, the Resource Description Framework (RDF) is also in encoding. These technologies formally represent metadata to the information. For example, ontology can describe concepts, relationships between entities, and categories of things. These embedded semantics offer significant advantages such as reasoning over data and operating with heterogeneous data sources. 

Using OWL (to build vocabularies, or “ontologies”) and SKOS (for designing knowledge organization systems) it is possible to enrich data with additional meaning, which allows more people (and more machines) to do more with the data.

Benefits of Semantic Web Services

Semantic Web describes properties of the content and dependencies between different content, which allows the ambiguous exchange of information between human and computer. It has got the following benefits.

  • The use of the semantic web makes the computer metadata standard interoperable.
  • It provides additional functionality such as using rule-based approaches.
  • Provides best practices for creating multimedia metadata and using multimedia content on the Web with practical use cases that identify users, type of content, and type of metadata they want to enable.
  • The semantic web makes a reasonable response for a given query by employing software agents that can locate the necessary information and build meaningful data collections.

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