The focus of the Uncertainty Reasoning for the Semantic Web workshop (URSW) is to address the challenge of reasoning and representing uncertain information in the context of Semantic Web development.
The 2007 Workshop on Uncertainty Reasoning for the Semantic Web is intended to build on the success of the 2005 and the 2006 Workshops devoted to the same topic. While considerable progress has been achieved toward realization of the Semantic Web vision, it is increasingly apparent that the sound and principled technology for handling uncertainty is a key-enabling factor for continued progress. Uncertainty is an unavoidable factor in knowledge interchange and application interoperability. Different applications have different ontologies, different semantics, and different knowledge and data stores. Legacy applications are usually only partially documented and may rely on tacit usage conventions that even proficient users do not fully understand or appreciate.
Further, data that is exchanged in the context of the semantic web may be incomplete, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This suggests that recent work in the application of probability and decision theory to complex, open-world problems could be of vital importance to the success of the semantic web. Incorporating these new technologies into languages, protocols, and specifications for the semantic web is fundamental to bringing the semantic web vision to its full fruition.
The following web-relevant reasoning challenges illustrate the kinds of problems for which reasoning under uncertainty is beneficial.
Despite the potential that a principled framework for representing uncertainty would contribute to the development of robust SW solutions, for historical reasons research on the Semantic Web started with little support for representing and reasoning in the presence of uncertain, incomplete knowledge. However, as the research on SW leaves the conceptual level and reaches a level of maturity in which the actual challenges are better understood, realization has grown that many SW applications require a principled means for representing uncertainty and performing plausible reasoning with incomplete data. As a result, there has been a growing interest within the Semantic Web community in identifying the kinds of information management challenges that would benefit most from mechanisms for reasoning with uncertainty and those that have already so benefited. Researchers from many different domains of knowledge have begun to appreciate the need for a forum to discuss the ways in which uncertainty reasoning can contribute to addressing their respective challenges, and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to representing and reasoning under uncertainty.
Not surprisingly, both workshops on Uncertainty Reasoning for the Semantic Web held at the 4th and 5th ISWC received an overwhelmingly positive response from the SW community. As a direct result of the research presented there and the rise in level of interest in the subject, the W3C has recently approved the Uncertainty Reasoning for the World Wide Web Incubator Group (see charter at http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/urw3/charter). While the XG group will become a forum devoted on how to tackle the problem within the W3C’s scope and responsibilities, the third URSW aims to establish the already successful workshop series as the major venue for the latest, state-of-the-art research on the subject, fostering the increasingly active community devoted to this topic and the growing interest on the subject by many SW researchers.