The Semantic Web

Fall 2001

This syllabus is subject to change at the instructor's discretion. The current syllabus can always be found at


12/5/2001 - The due date for the final project has been extended to 5pm Friday, Dec. 14!

Professor: Jeff Heflin
Office: 330 Packard Lab
Office Hours: M 10-11am, W 10-11am, Th 3-4pm, and by appointment
Phone: 610-758-6533
Web Page:

Course Description:

The Internet is on the verge of another revolution. The development of the World Wide Web made the Internet accessible to millions by making it easy for anyone to publish and access documents on the Internet. However, the explosive growth of the Web has led to the problem of information overload. Researchers from industry and academia are now exploring the possibility of creating a "Semantic Web," in which meaning is made explicit, allowing machines to process and integrate Web resources intelligently. Beyond enabling quick and accurate web search, this technology may also allow the development of intelligent internet agents and facilitate communication between a multitude of heterogeneous web-accessible devices. In this class, we will examine this exciting area by reading and discussing both existing web specifications and cutting-edge research papers. Topics will include World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards such as the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the Resource Description Framework (RDF), as well as proposed standards such as the DARPA Agent Markup Language (DAML).



Each student must complete a project of his or her choice (subject to the professor's approval). The project may either be a paper on some topic related to the Semantic Web or can be the development of software that demonstrates a capability of the Semantic Web. The project will be graded in three parts. In October, students must submit a written proposal for the their project. This proposal will be 2-4 pages. In November,students must submit a 2-6 page project progress report. This report will describe what has been completed so far. The completed project is due on the last day of class.


Project proposal 10%
Project progress report 20%
Project 40%
Homework 10%
Class participation 20%

Schedule: (last updated 12/5/01)

This schedule is subject to change as the class progresses. Check back to determine assignments for upcoming weeks.

Each reading assignment is linked to an on-line version of the document. Usually this is in HTML or PDF format, although a few papers are in PostScript or Compressed PostScript format. Also, each reading assignment is followed by a reference (in brackets) that links to the complete citation for the paper. The citations for the entire reading list can be found here.
Day Topics Assignments
Aug. 29 Introduction, XML No assignments
Aug. 31   Read The Semantic Web [BHL01]
Read The Evolution of Web Documents [CKR97]
Sep. 3 XML continued Read A Technical Introduction to XML [Wal98]
Read XML 1.0 Recommendation [BPS00]
Sep. 5   Read XML Namespaces by Example [Bra99]
Read Namespaces in XML [BHL99]
Read Namespace Myths Exploded [Bou00]
Sep. 7   Read What is XML Schema? [vdV00]
Read XML Schema Part 0: Primer [Fal01]
Sep. 10 XML, RDF and RDF Schema Read What is XSLT? [Hol00]
Read XSL Transformations [Cla99] (optional)
Sep. 12   Read An Introduction to the Resource Description Framework [Mil98]
Read Resource Description Framework (RDF) [LS99]
Sep. 14   Read RDF Schema Specification [BG00]
Sep. 17 Ontologies and logic Read A Programmer's Introduction to Predicate Logic [Cun94]
Sep. 19   Read A Translation Approach to Portable Ontology Specifications [Gru93]
Read Tools for Assembling Modular Ontologies in Ontolingua [FFR97a]
Sep. 21   Read Ontology Development 101 [NM01]
Sep. 24 Semantic web languages Homework 1 assigned, due on Sep. 28
Read Semantic Interoperability on the Web [HH00]
Sep. 26   Project proposal assigned, due on Oct. 12
Read The SHOE Specification [LH00]
Sep. 28   Homework 1 due
Read Ontobroker: Ontology Based Access to Distributed and Semi-structured Information [DEF00]
Oct. 1 Semantic web languages continued Read OIL in a Nutshell [FHvH00]
Read Adding Formal Semantics to the Web [BKD00]
Oct. 3   Read Annotated DAML+OIL Ontology Markup [vHP01a]
Oct. 5   Read Reference Description of the DAML+OIL Ontology Markup Language [vHP01b]
Oct. 8 Pacing break No assignments
Oct. 10 Applications Read ITTALKS: A Case Study in the Semantic Web and DAML [CFJ01]
Oct. 12   Project proposal due
Read OntoWebber: Model-Driven Ontology-Based Web Site Management [JDW01]
Oct. 15 Tools Homework 2 assigned, due on Oct. 31
Read A Portrait of the Semantic Web in Action [HH01]
Read The Briefing Associate: A Role for COTS Applications in the Semantic Web [TGB01]
Oct. 17   Read A Survey of Research on Deductive Database Systems [RU95]
Oct. 19   Read XSB as an Efficient Deductive Database Engine (also in PDF) [SSW94]
Read Efficient Management of Very Large Ontologies [STH97]
Oct. 22 Ontology construction and reuse Read Ontology Library Systems: The Key to Successful Ontology Re-use [DF01]
Oct. 24   Read Industrial Strength Ontology Management [DWM01]
Oct. 26   Read Learning Ontologies for the Semantic Web [MS01]
Oct. 29 Ontology management Read Ontology Versioning on the Semantic Web [KF01]
Oct. 31   Homework 2 due
Read A Logical Foundation for the Semantic Web (pages 22-32) [Hef01]
Nov. 2   Read A Logical Foundation for the Semantic Web (pages 32-46) [Hef01]
Nov. 5 Ontology integration Read An Environment for Merging and Testing Large Ontologies [MFR00]
Read PROMPT: Algorithm and Tool for Automated Ontology Merging and Alignment [NM00]
Nov. 7   Read OntoMorph: A Translation System for Symbolic Knowledge [Cha00]
Nov. 9   Project progress report due
Read A Framework for Ontology Integration [CGL01]
Nov. 12 Internet agents and web services Read Is There an Intelligent Agent in Your Future?" [Hen99]
Read Electric Elves: Applying Agent Technology to Support Human Organizations [CGK01]
Nov. 14   Read DAML-S: Semantic Markup for Web Services [ABH01]
Nov. 16   Read Overcoming Ontology Mismatches in Transactions with Self-Describing Service Agents [MBS01]
Nov. 19 E-Commerce Read A Semantic Web Approach to Service Description for Matchmaking of Services [TBG01]
Nov. 21   Read A Declarative Approach to Business Rules in Contracts [GLC99]
Nov. 23 Vacation No assignments
Nov. 26   Read A Framework for Distributed Trust Management [KCF01]
Nov. 28 Information integration systems Read The TSIMMIS Approach to Mediation: Data Models and Languages [GPQ97]
Nov. 30   Read The Ariadne Approach to Web-based Information Integration [KMA]
Dec. 3 Information extraction Read Wrapper Induction for Information Extraction [KWD97]
Read Machine Learning for Information Extraction from XML Marked-up Text on the Semantic Web [Col01]
Dec. 5   Read Scaling Question Answering to the Web (also in PDF) [KEW01]
Dec. 7 Review and discussion No reading assignments
Think of one or more discussion topics
Dec. 14 No class Final Project due

Additional Resources: