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Thesauri, Terminologies and the Semantic Web. CCLRC. Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) Big Science Synchrotron Radiation Sources Lasers Pulsed Neutron Source Large-scale IT demands: tera-scale data, computation Strong IT R&D programme

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Thesauri, Terminologies and the Semantic Web

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  • Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC)
  • Big Science
    • Synchrotron Radiation Sources
    • Lasers
    • Pulsed Neutron Source
  • Large-scale IT demands: tera-scale data, computation
  • Strong IT R&D programme
  • BITD: Business and Information Technology Department
swad e
  • Semantic Web Advanced Development for Europe (SWAD-E)
  • EU Project
  • W3C Semantic Web Activity
    • R&D
    • Demos & Apps
    • Guidelines & Best Practises
  • Partners: HP Labs, ILRT, Stilo, ERCIM (INRIA), CCLRC
semantic web
Semantic Web
  • Current Web:
    • Web of information for humans
  • Semantic Web:
    • Web of data for computers
  • Why?
    • Automation, organisation, search
  • Enabling technologies:
    • RDF: Resource Description Framework
      • Data linking, low-level semantics
    • OWL: Web Ontology Language
      • High-level semantics, inference
swad e thesaurus activity
SWAD-E Thesaurus Activity
  • Why is SWAD-E interested in thesauri?
    • Large body of well-engineered knowledge
      • Enrich & bootstrap semantic web
  • SWAD-E Thesaurus Activity
    • Design Schemas for thesaurus data
    • Guidelines for use and migration
    • Supporting technologies and demos
exploiting the semantic web
Exploiting the Semantic Web
  • What can you get out of the semantic web?
    • Integration & Connectivity
    • Data Interoperability
    • Application Interoperability
  • N.B. The Semantic Web is a Tool.
integration connectivity
Integration & Connectivity
  • Recurring use-case: high/low-level thesauri
    • E.g. GCL & Cultural Heritage thesauri
    • E.g. Gerry’s macro/micro thesauri
  • RDF => Data linking
    • Can create large linked thesaurus structures – super-thesauri
    • Linking solves problem of concurrent versions
data interoperability
Data Interoperability
  • Interoperability is a major goal
  • Move to XML technologies is a step in the right direction
  • But …
    • XML does not equal Interoperability
  • [N.B. plethora of XML formats for thesauri]
skos core rdf schema for thesauri
SKOS-Core: RDF Schema for Thesauri
  • Introducing: SKOS-Core 1.0
    • RDF Schema for Thesauri
    • SKOS: Simple Knowledge Organisation Systems
  • The First Challenge: coping with variety in thesaurus design and structure
    • Allow unique features
    • Support interoperability
  • The Second Challenge: interoperating with/migrating to ontologies, taxonomies, classification schemes etc.
  • N.B. The semantic web is where data collide
skos meta model
SKOS Meta-Model
  • SKOS Meta-Model: Concept-orientation
    • Concepts (given URIs)
    • Labels (pref, alt) (symbols)
    • Concept Schemes
    • Semantic Relations (extensible set)
      • Broader, narrower, related …
    • Semantic Mappings (extensible set)
      • Exact, inexact …
    • Scope notes, definitions, depictions
  • Infer meaning of concept from labels, scope notes, definitions, depictions & neighbours.


sub-property of


sub-property of


example gemet
Example: GEMET
  • Non-Standard Features:
    • Groups & Super-Groups
    • Themes
  • Solution: Extend SKOS-Core:
    • Class gemet:Group
      • Sub-class of skos:Concept
    • Class gemet:Theme
      • Sub-class of skos:Concept
    • Property gemet:broaderTheme
      • Sub-property of skos:broader
    • Property gemet:broaderGroup
      • Sub-propery of skos:broader


sub-property of


sub-property of


approach to non standard thesauri
Approach to Non-Standard Thesauri
  • Design schema as extension to SKOS-Core
    • Preserve unique features
    • Can interoperate with anything based on SKOS-Core
  • Have your cake and eat it!
example mesh
Example: MeSH
  • Medical Subject Headings
  • Thesaurus features:
    • Semantically ambiguous concept hierarchy
  • Ontology features:
    • Semantic typing of concepts, e.g. Calcymycin type Antibiotic
  • Use combination of SKOS and OWL to represent this hybrid structure
  • RDF, SKOS & OWL means you can migrate a thesaurus to ontology merely by adding statements
  • (No re-engineering or transformation is required)
interoperability thesaurus mapping
Interoperability: Thesaurus Mapping
  • Common use-case: overlapping thesauri
    • Mappings support interchangeable use of overlapping thesauri
  • Introducing: SKOS-Mapping
    • RDF Schema for inter-thesaurus mapping
skos mapping









Combinators: AND, OR, NOT


Sets of Resources in which Concept Occurs

data interop summary
Data Interop Summary
  • SKOS-Core supports interoperability of KOS with variable structures
  • SKOS-Mapping supports interoperability of overlapping KOS
  • Analyse multilingual thesaurus into language components
  • Multilingual Labelling
    • Use SKOS-Core
    • E.g. GEMET
  • Inter-lingual Mapping
    • Use SKOS-Core + SKOS-Mapping
    • E.g. AAT, Merimee
multilinguality 2
Multilinguality (2)

Analyse each language component

Multilingual Labelling

Interlingual Mapping

application interoperability
Application Interoperability
  • Move to modularisation and distribution via web services is step in the right direction
  • But …
    • Web services does not equal application interoperability
  • Web service API
    • Community driven design
    • Endorsed by wider community
skos api
    • Interface to terminology web service
    • Under development (pre-release is online)
  • Participate on public mailing list:

web service implementation
Web Service Implementation
  • Reference Implementation of SKOS API
    • Leverage power of sem-web tools
      • E.g. RDF Query
      • E.g. transitive closure of broader concepts
  • SOAP Service
    • Back end: Sesame RDF Store
    • Modular design
  • Semantic Web Services
future issues
Future Issues
  • Social aspects
    • Semantic web technology supports community driven development of thesauri
    • But … validation?
  • Change Management
    • Versioning
    • Evolution
  • Semantic Web Technologies are tools
    • SKOS-Core & SKOS-Mapping support data interoperability
    • SKOS API supports application interoperability
  • W3C Semantic Web Best Practises Working Group
    • Thesaurus Task Force
swad e eco informatics
SWAD-E & Eco-informatics
  • Work with thesaurus developers and managers
    • Publish RDF encodings of current thesauri
    • Test design and coverage of SKOS-Core
  • Community building for development of web service API
thank you
Thank You
  • Links:

SWAD-Europe Thesaurus Activity

SKOS-Core 1.0 Guide


SKOS-Core 1.0 Guidelines for Migration

Public Thesaurus Mailing list

W3C Semantic Web Activity

SWAD-E Project