UMBC CMSC 491/691s Spring 2009
Special Topics: The Semantic Web

This special topics course is available to advanced undergraduates and graduate students. It will introduce the notion of the Semantic Web, provide an overview of the underlying theory and technology, cover existing tools and practices, and highlight current and potential applications. The course will be approximately half lecture and half seminar. Students will be expected to read, discuss and present current research papers. In the first half of the course there will be a series of homework assignments designed to get students familiar with the technology. I the second half, students will work on individual or group projects. For more information, see the syllabus and schedule.

The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. It is a collaborative effort led by the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with participation from a large number of researchers and industrial partners. It is based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF). Here's how the W3C describes the Semantic Web.

"The Semantic Web is a web of data. There is lots of data we all use every day, and its not part of the web. I can see my bank statements on the web, and my photographs, and I can see my appointments in a calendar. But can I see my photos in a calendar to see what I was doing when I took them? Can I see bank statement lines in a calendar?

Why not? Because we don't have a web of data. Because data is controlled by applications, and each application keeps it to itself.

The Semantic Web is about two things. It is about common formats for integration and combination of data drawn from diverse sources, where on the original Web mainly concentrated on the interchange of documents. It is also about language for recording how the data relates to real world objects. That allows a person, or a machine, to start off in one database, and then move through an unending set of databases which are connected not by wires but by being about the same thing."