W3C Standard Facilitates Information Management and Integration

Author(s) and publish date


OWL 2 Connects the Web of Knowledge with the Web of Data



http://www.w3.org/ -- 27 October 2009 -- Today W3C announces a new version of a standard for representing knowledge on the Web. OWL 2, part of W3C's Semantic Web toolkit, allows people to capture their knowledge about a particular domain (say, energy or medicine) and then use tools to manage information, search through it, and learn more from it. Furthermore, as an open standard based on Web technology, it lowers the cost of merging knowledge from multiple domains.

"OWL 2 is the direct result of user experience," said Professor Ian Horrocks, University of Oxford and Chair of the OWL Working Group. "We learned a great deal from real world applications of OWL. The new version adds both power and speed: it standardizes those features most requested by OWL users, and introduces profiles to improve scalability in typical applications."

OWL 2 Designed to Meet Real-World Information Management Needs

Communities organize information through shared vocabularies. Booksellers talk about "titles" and "authors," human resource departments use "salary" and "social security number," and so on. OWL is one W3C tool for building and sharing vocabularies.

Consider the application of OWL in the field of health care. Medical professionals use OWL to represent knowledge about symptoms, diseases, and treatments. Pharmaceutical companies use OWL to represent information about drugs, dosages, and allergies. Combining this knowledge from the medical and pharmaceutical communities with patient data enables a whole range of intelligent applications such as decision support tools that search for possible treatments; systems that monitor drug efficacy and possible side effects; and tools that support epidemiological research.

As with other W3C Semantic Web technology, OWL is well-suited to real-world information management needs. Over time, our knowledge changes, as does the way we think about information. It is also common to think of new ways of using data over time, or to have to combine data with other data in ways not initially envisioned (for example, when two companies merge and their data sets need to be merged as well). OWL is designed with these realities in mind.

OWL can lower software development costs as well by making it easier to design generic software (search tools, inference tools, etc.) that may be customized by simply adding more OWL descriptions. For instance, one simple but powerful feature of OWL is the ability to deduce two items of interest as being "the same" — for instance, that "the planet Venus" is the same thing as "the morning star" and as "the evening star." Knowing that two items are "the same" allows smart tools to infer relationships automatically, without any changes to software.

OWL 2 Adds Expressive Power to Successfully Deployed Standard

W3C published the first version of OWL in 2004. OWL has already been successfully deployed in such diverse application areas as Oil & Gas exploration, eBusiness, health record management, semantic desktops, or management of musical archives; more case studies are available. The new features in OWL 2 are based on the features people most requested after using OWL 1. OWL 2 introduces OWL profiles, subsets of the language that offer easier implementation and use (at the expense of expressive power) designed for various application needs.

To get started with OWL 2, see the OWL 2 Overview and OWL 2 Primer.

About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 400 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is 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, and has seventeen outreach offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org

Media Contacts

Contact Americas, Australia
Ian Jacobs, <ij@w3.org>, +1.718.260.9447 or +1.617.253.2613
Contact Europe, Africa and the Middle East
Marie-Claire Forgue, <mcf@w3.org>, +33 6 76 86 33 41
Contact Asia
Naoko Ishikura, <keio-contact@w3.org>, +81.466.49.1170

Testimonials for OWL2 Recommendation

Clark & Parsia LLC | IBM | Kaiser Permanente | Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) | Mayo Clinic | Oracle | Sandpiper Software | Siemens Healthcare | University of Manchester | University of Oxford

Clark & Parsia LLC

Clark & Parsia LLC is pleased to welcome OWL 2, the new revision of the Web Ontology Language. Our customers -- ranging from federal government to Fortune 500 enterprises and cutting-edge startups -- see OWL 2 as a significant step toward industrial-class ontology-based computing systems. In particular, OWL 2's support for profiles and increased expressivity will accelerate real-world adoption in information integration, decision support, and related domains. Our product line, including Pellet and PelletDb, supports OWL 2 extensively and will continue to lead innovation in the area of OWL and related semantic web technologies.

— Kendall Grant Clark, Managing Principal, Clark & Parsia LLC


IBM is pleased to recognize the technical achievement in the publication of the new Web Ontology Language (OWL 2.0). IBM has been very active in the development of semantic technologies and their applications to provide tangible and lasting business value to our customers. We have developed innovative approaches to scale OWL reasoning to large and expressive knowledge bases. We have applied Semantic Technologies, including OWL, to address a variety of real-world problems in various domains: from matching patients to available clinical trials, to detecting frauds in financial markets; from enhancing search over medical literature to developing a state-of –the-art tool for collaborative investigation, reasoning, and analysis.

— Charles Lickel, Vice President, Software, IBM Research

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente has over 8 million members and is the largest nonprofit health care delivery system in the United States. Our medical record system is entirely electronic, with diagnoses and procedures mapped to SNOMED-CT. We are able to find cohorts of patients for research, decision support, and quality reporting using the reasoning capabilities of SNOMED-CT. Primarily because of our extensive needs for subsumptive queries, we especially applaud the efforts of the W3C in creating the EL profile for OWL which allows us to work with medical terminology in an OWL compliant way.

— Peter Hendler, Physician Lead, Convergent Medical Terminology Project, Kaiser Permanente

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

We welcome the new revision of the Web Ontology Language (OWL 2) reaching W3C recommendation status. As a backwards-compatible extension of OWL with new capabilities, OWL 2 will continue to play a major role for knowledge-driven web applications and services developed within our institution. The new light-weight profiles, improved datatype support, and key-based data integration of OWL 2 provide a long-wanted possibility of leveraging scalable inferencing mechanisms for the Web of Data. Various OWL-2-enabled tools, including the NeOn Toolkit and the HERAKLES reasoning broker, are developed or re-used in our ongoing projects.

— Professor Rudi Studer, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic pioneered the concept of the group practice of medicine before the turn of the century in Rochester, Minnesota, and has grown to become the nation's largest such practice. The modern era of patient record oriented research began at Mayo in 1907 with the introduction of the Unit Medical Record, which collated all patient information into a single dossier. Today, Mayo operates a federated suite of electronic medical record systems that extensively use CHI (Consolidated Health Informatics) health vocabulary standards and coding systems. Mayo welcomes the OWL 2 recommendation as an important step along the path towards a new generation of tools that will enable individualized medicine, and promote secondary uses of data for clinical research and improving quality of care.

— Harold Solbrig, Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA


Oracle congratulates the W3C on achieving Recommendation status for OWL 2. As an active participant in this working group, Oracle believes customers and vendors can benefit from the latest advances for the Semantic Web through important new modeling capabilities in OWL 2 including property chains and keys. Oracle is a strong supporter of OWL (OWL 1) and has delivered multiple releases of Oracle Database that include native inference capabilities, enabling customers to model their domain using a standard vocabulary and semantics, which eases and speeds up the modeling process. We look forward to helping OWL 2 progress as a W3C Recommendation.

— Jay Banerjee, Senior Director Software Development, Oracle

Sandpiper Software

Sandpiper Software is pleased to support the OWL 2 Recommendation. Our tools and services for UML-based information modeling rely heavily on the OWL 1 standard, which we are currently migrating to OWL 2. A number of the new features clarify or extend aspects of the language that are critical for solving complex classification problems in science and engineering. The profiles provide much more flexibility in addressing performance issues in large scale deployments. We are delighted to help move the changes forward into related specifications at the Object Management Group over the coming months.

— Elisa Kendall, CEO, Sandpiper Software

Siemens Healthcare

On behalf of Siemens Healthcare, I would like to express our endorsement for OWL2 as a W3C recommendation.

The development of OWL2 is central to Siemens Healthcare's development of next generation clinical systems and integrated enterprise wide knowledge management. The extensions in OWL 2 are essential, including qualified cardinality restrictions (min/max), property chains, and richer annotations including annotation of individual axioms ( e.g. for maintaining the order of statements in OWL files). The work we are doing is critically dependent on these features. We also strongly support the greater clarity for different OWL Profiles , allowing greater flexibility in reasoner support.

We believe that OWL2 has the potential to support better patient care and the adoption of Personalized Medicine, by permitting the formalization of knowledge ontologies that it can support. We are actively building clinical solutions based upon OWL, and many of the requisites that we have encountered will be addressed with OWL2. I strongly urge its adoption.

— Sam Brandt, Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Siemens Healthcare

University of Manchester

We have used preliminary versions of the OWL2 language in educational, research and commercial applications for the past two years. It addresses key issues: a) The fine grained axiom annotations allow detailed tracking of provenance in collaborative development and testing; b) The use of qualified cardinality restrictions allows simpler and more semantically complete representation of key constructs; c) The availability of concrete data types, including numeric ranges, allows support of applications in scientific disciplines that depend on quantitative measures; d) Property paths support solutions to problems in equivalence of expressions that have plagued health informatics for a generation.

— Alan Rector, Professor of Medical Informatics, University of Manchester

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford warmly welcomes the OWL 2 Recommendation. Our Computing Laboratory is one of the world's leading centres for Semantic Web research, and we are heavily involved in the development of semantic technologies, such as our HermiT OWL reasoner, and their deployment in application areas as diverse as healthcare, travel and the humanities. The increased clarity and precision of the OWL 2 specification, the extended capabilities of the language, and the flexibility offered by the profiles, will be of great benefit in both these endeavours, and we have already made sure that HermiT is fully OWL 2 compliant.

— Ian Horrocks, Professor of Computer Science, University of Oxford

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