Semantic Web Rules: Fundamentals, Applications, and Standards

Half-day tutorial at the 11th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC2012)
11 November 2012, Boston, Massachusetts, USA


The area of semantic rules is perhaps the most important frontier today for the Semantic Web's core technology and standards. Recent progress includes major initial industry standards from W3C and OMG, and fundamental advances in the underlying knowledge representation techniques in declarative logic programs, including most recently for efficient higher-order defaults with sound integration of first order logic ontologies (OWL). Recent progress also includes methods to use rules for, or with, more expressive OWL ontologies; increasing integration of rules with query/search in SPARQL and relational databases; substantive translations between heterogeneous types of commercial rule engines; development of open-source tools for inferencing and interoperability; performance benchmarking of rule systems; a wide range of emerging applications including in business, science, and trust; and accelerating industry investments/acquisitions in the technology including by integrated software companies such as Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft. This tutorial will provide a comprehensive and up-to-date introduction to these developments and to the fundamentals of the key technologies and outstanding research issues involved. It will explore example application scenarios, overall requirements and challenges, and touch upon business/social value and strategy considerations.


Most ISWC attendees, especially those interested in rules and their applications in Semantic Web, ontologies, querying of RDF and relational data, business on the Web, services on the Web. This includes researchers interested in core technologies, and developers interested in standards and applications, as well as those interested in closely related areas such as query, search, question answering, natural language processing, collective intelligence, ontologies, policies, trust, security, wikis, e-commerce, financial services, and biomedical.

The tutorial will cater to those first learning about semantic web rules, as well as those who already have some background in them. It will assume only background knowledge of:


  1. Intro & Uses (~45 minutes)
    1. Overview of tutorial, and get acquainted
    2. What are: Rules on the Web, Semantic Rules/Web/Tech
    3. Uses and Kinds of rules
      • Commercial, web. Current, envisioned.
      • Requirements. Business value, IT lifecycle.
      • Strategic roadmapping of future adoption
    4. Example Use Cases
      • E-commerce pricing, ordering policies, contracts
      • E-Science: ecological process, mechanics context
      • Trust, compliance, policies, e.g., financial services
      • Info integration, ontology mapping, business reporting
      • Processes: policy-based workflow, causal action effects, Semantic Web Services

    (N.B.: (2.)-(4.) are interleaved.)

  2. Concepts & Foundations (~140 minutes)
    1. Overview of Logical Knowledge Representations
      • Logic Programs (LP) and its relationship to First Order Logic (FOL)
      • Rule-based Ontologies: Description Logic, Description LP, OWL RL
    2. SILK's Hyper LP: Putting it all together
    3. Basics: Horn Case; Functions
    4. F-Logic, Frame Syntax, Object Oriented Style
    5. HiLog, Higher-Order Syntax, Reification, Meta-Reasoning
    6. W3C Rule Interchange Format (RIF): Dialects, Framework
    7. Nonmonotonic LP: Defaults, Negation, Priorities, FOL Interchange
      • Semantics for Default Negation
      • Courteous LP, Argumentation Theories
      • Omni-directional Rules, FOL-Soundness, Remedying FOL's Fragility
    8. Procedural Attachments to Actions, Queries, Built-ins, and Events
      • Production/Situated LP, Production Rules
    9. Additional Features: Integrity Constraints, Inheritance, Lloyd-Topor, Equality, Skolemization, Aggregation, Datatypes, “Constraints”

  3. Conclusions & Directions (~25 minutes)
    1. More about Tools
    2. ... incl. SILK
    3. Conclusions
    4. Directions for Future research
    5. General Discussion

    Appendix: References and Resources


  • Benjamin Grosof, Vulcan Inc., US
  • Mike Dean, Raytheon BBN Technologies, US
  • Michael Kifer, Stony Brook University, US


    Mike Dean, 9 November 2012