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Current postgraduate taught students

COMP60461: The Semantic Web: Ontologies and OWL (2007-2008)

This is an archived syllabus from 2007-2008

The Semantic Web: Ontologies and OWL
Level: 6
Credit rating: 15
Pre-requisites: A knowledge of basic logic
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Lectures: 1 day per week (5 weeks)
Course lecturer: not assignedAdditional staff: view all staff
Sem 2 w25,29-32 Lecture 2.19 Tue 09:00 - 17:00 -
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 0%
Coursework: 0%
Lab: 0%


Knowledge representation and "ontologies" are critical to the development of the next generation Web - "The Semantic Web." Beyond the Semantic Web, semantically rich applications, ontologies and metadata are playing an increasing role in cutting edge applications. The W3C Web Ontology Language, OWL, is now an established standard for developing and managing ontologies both for the Semantic Web and for other semantically rich applications. Manchester played a major role in OWL's development, and OWL plays a key role in many of its research programmes and industrial collaborations.

This module presents both the foundations and practice of developing and using OWL ontologies. The course is split roughly evenly between theoretical material on the description logics underlying OWL and practical work on developing ontologies using OWL. The course uses the latest version of the Prot?g?-OWL environment which has been developed in the Department and is now the de facto standard open-source environment for developing OWL ontologies.


The couse will provide students with a theoretical and practical understanding of leading edge solutions for the Semantic Web and for knowledge representation more generally. It will introduce students to description logics through the the new W3C standard Web Ontology Language, OWL. It will provide students with experience using a set of established patterns for developing OWL ontologies and help them to learn to avoid the major pitfalls in using OWL. It will give them an opportunity to become familiar with a widely used environment for developing and applying OWL ontologies.

Learning Outcomes

A student successfully completing this course unit should:
Be able to discuss/explain the general principals of semantic networks, frames, rules (A),
Be able to discuss/explain KR/ontology languages designed for the world wide web, in particular the new Web Ontology Language (OWL) (A, B),
Understand the syntax, semantics and decision procedures for the famly of description logics which underpin OWL (A),
Know the common ontological structures and principles of ontology development , have an appreciation of ``why it's hard'', and to be able to write critically about current work on the ``Semantic Web'' (A, B),
Be able to design and build ontologies in OWL using the de facto standard editor, Protege, justify and evaluate their design (B, C), and explain their behaviour.

Assessment of Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes 1-4 will be assessed by exam. Learning outcome 5 will be assessed via practical and post-course work.

Contribution to Programme Learning Outcomes

A1, A2, B2, B3, C1, C3, D3, D4


The following topics will be covered in the course lectures

Introduction to the Semantic Web
Basics of knowledge representation and informal introduction to OWL
Description logics and classiers - the ALC family and its extensions
Practical issues in ontologies: Basic principles, normalisation and the "Ontoclean" methodology, upper ontologies,
Common problems in ontology development: parts and wholes, time, space, fundamental limitations.

Lab work

Introduction to Protege and OWL including advanced tutorial
Special problems of representation and reasoning in OWL
Differences between 'open world' reasoning in OWL and 'closed world' reasoning in databases and logic programming
Practical development project
Problem sets
Critique/comment on implemented ontologies on the Web

Reading List

Core Text
Title: Description Logic Handbook
Author: Franz Baader, Diego Calvanese, Deborah Mcguinness, Daniele Nardi, Peter Patel-Schneider
ISBN: 0521876257
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Edition: 2nd
Year: 2007

Core Text
Author: Matthew Horridge, Holger Knublauch, Alan Rector, Robert Stevens, Chris Wroe
Publisher: School of computer Science, Internal Report
Main source for practical training in OWL

Supplementary Text
Title: Artificial Intelligence: a modern approach (2nd edition)
Author: Russell, S. and P. Norvig
ISBN: 0130803022
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Edition: 2nd
Year: 2003

Supplementary Text
Title: Principles of Semantic Networks Explorations in the Representation of Knowledge
Author: John F. Sowa
ISBN: 1558600884
Publisher: Elsevier Science & Technology
Year: 1991

Supplementary Text
Title: Semantic web primer (2nd edition)
Author: Antoniou, Grigoris and Frank van Harmelen
ISBN: 9780262012423
Publisher: MIT Press
Edition: 2nd
Year: 2008