Tim Berners-Lee: Research

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)

My current research interest is the Semantic Web: using the WWW infrastructure to create a global, decentralized, weblike mesh of machine-processable knowledge. Please see my general page for information about other subjects.

The Semantic Web can be described as doing for Knowledge Representation what the Hypertext WWW did for hypertext. It part of the completion of the original dream of the Web. URIs and HTTP create a universal addressable space of information, allowing things to be given globally unique and dereferencable names. By relaxing traditional constraints of global consistency, we allow the system to grow to a global scale, maintaining local consistency.

The impact on information technology will be to break down the information barriers between organizations, and between applications.

Our research is specifically into pursuing practical projects which test these concepts and distinguish areas for future research and possible development of new standards. We look at systems which combine inference and web access; which are aware of the provenance of information, which can trust information from difference sources in different ways, and can reinforce is logical concept of trust with cryptography to make secure systems.

MIT Students

We are interested in working with students at any level, UROP, MEng or PhD. Send email and come talk to us.

Some of the UROP projects in the areas of using semantic web tools for early adopter possible killer app areas such as personal information integration, enterprise integration, and possibly public and scientific data, not to mention the policy-aware integration across all these domains. We have general tools such as cwm and application-specific semantic web adaptors - the fun is connecting things together. We are looking at proof exchange langauges which include cryptography, indexing the web of rules, remote query and query delegation. We are happy to co-supervise with other groups in areas such as Theory of Computation, Artificiail Intelligence, Distributed systems, and so on.

Student projects

Currently we are looking for people to do do research based aroun the cwm (python-based semantic web) and ontaria (prolog-based semantic web) platforms. Other student projects (of millions - come talk to us) are for example realted to Paper Trail and Diff, Patch, Update and Sync.

Non-MIT Students

Sorry, we do not have a program of internship for students at other institutes. We collaborate with other labs, and W3C has a fellowship program for employees of member companies.


MIT CSAIL is one of the three host sites of the World Wide Web Consortium. Our intention is always to allow the best communication and mutual guidance between research and standards development, and between academia and industry. Several of my colleagues and I generally divide our time as between these roles.


timbl @
32 Vassar Street
MIT room 32-G-524
Cambridge MA 02139
+1 (617) 253 5702
+1 (617) 258 5999


SWAP: Semantic Web Application Platform is the codebase which we have been using as a pltform for our research. Includes development of the N3 language and the cwm general purpose semantic web tool.

Tutorial on the semantic web

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