Trying to start an R&D firm in the Semantic Web area can be a bit frustrating in one respect: there are so many good ideas, but funding in the US lags woefully behind the EU in particular.
Of course hard-nosed types say that a genuinely good idea is one that’s technically feasible and fundable, but I’m not sure I buy that. We’re all of us trying here to create a market for these ideas, methodologies, and technologies. That usually requires that someone (or many someones) take some risks.
So we think, for 2006–2007, doing R&D on the following things is a good risk worth taking:
- OWL & DL reasoning
- Ontology engineering
- Applied OWL
- Information integration
- RDF Query
I’ll expand on each of these briefly, in bullet-point form. Some of these are already funded, but some aren’t. If you are involved with research in any of these areas, we’d love to talk with you about this stuff.
OWL & DL reasoning. We’re pursuing OWL reasoning at scale; incremental reasoning (over, say, streams of sensor data); the combination of OWL and rules; the combination of OWL and various kinds of specialized logic like spatial and temporal; greater DL expressivity; and nonmonotonic and paraconsistent extensions to OWL.
Ontology engineering. We’re pursuing ontology repair, debugging, and explanation; ontology modularity; user-interface and HCI issues related to ontology browsing, query, and navigation; ontology changeset and version management and exchange; and ontology visualization.
Applied OWL. This is an area where I’m personally most excited, I think. We’re pursuing the use of OWL to do regulation and policy management, including domains like web service policy and corporate governance (for example, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance); as well as bioinformatics (BioPAX and the Foundational Model of Anatomy).
Information integration. We’re pursuing UI and HCI issues around browsing federated RDF knowledge bases (aka, “polyarchies”); developing environments to do visual query building for end-users to facilitate information discovery; the automated generation of REST services from RDF and OWL knowledge bases; and OWL-based schema alignment. In some ways this is the least fascinating area we’re pursuing, but the most lucrative too, so we can’t afford to ignore it.
RDF query. We’re pursuing various kinds of follow-on work related to the forthcoming W3C SPARQL standards for RDF query and protocol, including: Annoted Logics to formalize and, eventually, lead to standardization of the “fourth slot” problem of RDF databases; SADDLE (the postponed SPARQL Service Advertisement and Discovery Language); various kinds of OWL entailment; and protocol work including graph update (additions, deletions) and maintenance.
Some of this work happens in support of service-based consulting, while other parts are funded in more of a pure R&D mode. We’re interested in working with industry, academic, or goverment organizations that are working in this area or trying to solve hard problems where this kind of work is relevant.