http://www.w3.org/ -- 27 April 2005 - W3C has brought together over sixty industry and research organizations in a Washington, DC workshop geared at the development of a uniform Rule language - the next layer in the Semantic Web development stack. Hosted by ILOG, SA and supported by DARPA, the W3C Rule Languages Workshop is bringing together the leaders in Business Rules development, customers, and Semantic Web developers in an effort to identify requirements for a common rule language.
"After years of industry and research work in rules languages, we're approaching convergence," explained Sandro Hawke, W3C Semantic Web Team developer and workshop co-chair. "The combination of user companies, rule language designers and semantic web developers coming together at this workshop allows each constituency to contribute to a shared solution for Rule languages on the Web. "
Hawke shares workshop co-chairing duties with Christian de Sainte Marie of ILOG and Said Tabet of RuleML.org.
Rules are everywhere. They are found in many domains, disciplines, and industries. Business policies, laws and regulations, guidelines and best practices, definitions and axioms, database schema translations, workflow branching and technical constraints, all require a declarative and modular approach to their implementation.
There is a thriving commercial market in several families of rule technologies, including production rules, event-condition-action rules, Prolog, relational database systems, and others. However, practical interoperability between these systems, especially across the different families, is currently quite limited.
Rules are also a key element of the Semantic Web vision, allowing integration, derivation, and transformation of data from multiple sources in a distributed, transparent, and scalable manner. Rules can themselves be treated as data, published on the web, and when URIs (or QNames) are used as symbol-constants in a rule language, they can form useful links between knowledge bases. In a Web services environment, rules offer the opportunity to enable the automation of the enforcement and composition of policies governing the delivery of information, the access to services, or the execution of processes.
This workshop is a step along the path to establishing a standard language framework to support rule system interoperability on the Web. It aims at gathering vendors, technologists, application developers and users to discuss and provide recommendations to the W3C regarding what is the best approach to the specification of a standard or family of standards for the public representation and exchange of rules on the Web, in terms of avoiding redundant efforts, of optimizing the potential for wide adoption, and of promoting consistency and interoperability between different applications or layers, while preserving their specific requirements.
Sixty-eight papers have been accepted to the workshop in response to the Call for Participation. The accepted papers can be loosely grouped into three categories: use cases from various industries, candidate technologies, and Rule Language-Semantic Web convergence. The program includes sessions that address these topics, and to evaluating the range of rule languages currently in use, to determine if they share any common traits, and consider next steps.
The workshop is expected to result in the following deliverables:
Many of these are already published on the workshop home page. Future directions may include the creation of a W3C Working Group to focus on Rule Languages.
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 Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) 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, over 350 organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see http://www.w3.org/