Integrity Constraints in Pellet

As people discover from time to time, OWL isn’t really a schema language; because of its semantics (open world assumption, etc), instance data that looks different from schema data doesn’t lead to the reasoner declaring a constraint violation. Rather, it may lead to the inference of new knowledge.

This is neither a good nor bad thing; it just means there are at least two Big Use Cases people want to use OWL for: inferring new knowledge (CHECK) and abstract, expressive schema language (FAIL).

But giving a new—alternative or supplemental—semantics to OWL is non-trivial, which is why when NIST put out an SBIR solicitation for R&D related to using OWL in Supply Chain Management, we submitted an integrity constraints proposal. (Also, a sidenote for OWL Haters: you can’t, by definition, get more practical or “real world” than SCM. Not possible.)

Happily, we found out recently that we were awarded this funding (with very strong technical evaluations—yay!) and work is beginning soon.

SBIR Phase I funding will cover this work; but the follow-on, Phase II, is considerably larger and that’s where, if we can snag Phase II, we’ll push the prototype to production-grade, integrate it with the rest of Pellet and other OWL-based systems of ours (Owlgres comes to mind), and make a concerted “push to market”.

An industrial-quality Integrity Constraint subsystem for Pellet will open it up for use in new apps and, thus, in new markets. That’s exciting and, as always, we’ll be looking for commercial partners to work with us on those challenges.


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