Having returned four days ago from the 18th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (EKAW’12)—held in a sunny (!) and beautiful Galway from 8-12 October—I have not yet managed to read all the papers I checked off to read, but I don’t want to postpone the usual conference blogpost too much. So here it goes.
The main reasons why ‘successful’ is in the title of this post is that there were several interesting papers, I was (co-)author of two full papers (acceptance rate 15%) of which one won the best paper award, useful feedback on the contents of the papers, it was productive regarding meeting up and conversing about our research and networking, and it was held in Galway. The remainder of this posts briefly outlines some of that; there are Springer LNAI conference proceedings and most presentations have been uploaded on YouTube now.
There were three keynotes. Martin Hepp talked about the difference between ontologies and (more lightweight) web ontologies. Michael Uschold reflected on building the Enterprise Ontology and the lessons learned. Lee Harland provided a lot of information about “practical semantics” for the pharmaceutical industry to improve on the drug discovery process with, a.o., flexible data integration, the new W3C draft of the provenance data model, and quantitative data ontology in the Open PHACTS project.
There were several sessions spread over three whole days, grouped by the following topics: knowledge extraction and enrichment, natural language processing, linked data, ontology engineering and evaluation, social and cognitive aspects of knowledge representation, applications of knowledge engineering, and in-use papers.
Unsurprisingly, I’ll zoom in a bit on the ontology engineering contributions. There were several papers on improving the quality of an ontology. María Poveda-Villalón presented the OntOlogy Pitfall Scanner OOPS! tool that implements the current catalogue of 29 pitfalls , where pitfalls may be logical consistency issues or due to modeling or due to human understanding. Given an ontology, OOPS! evaluates it on those pitfalls and reports possible instances, which then can be corrected; e.g., a user defined a property to be the inverse of itself or swapped intersection and union in an expression or missing disjointness axioms. Concerning the latter, Sebastien Ferré’s Advocatus Diaboli—or: “pew! pew!”—may come in helpful as well : it lets one explore the ontology, find “absurd” conjuncts, and add an axiom to exclude that. Or: the aim of the Possible World Explorer is to reduce the amount of possible worlds admitted by the ontology and therewith approximate the intended models better. My own contribution on Detecting and Revising Flaws in OWL Object Property Expressions —which won the best paper award—considers flaws in object property expressions, good and safe role boxes/object property expressions, defines two tests to check for that in an ontology, and provides proposals for how to correct the mistakes (there’s an informal introduction in a previous blog post). In addition to these research contributions on finding and fixing flaws, there was also an in-use paper about that, though then applied to SKOS vocabularies , which won the best in-use paper award. It combines guidelines and constraints for SKOS in a new tool Skosify and evaluated 14 SKOS vocabularies and thesauri in some detail, therewith improving those artifacts.
From a modelling/ontology viewpoint, the paper about derived roles  was really interesting: although I had thought about the basic temporal dimension of roles before, not in such detail as Mizoguchi and co-authors did. For instance, how should one represent ‘murderer’ or ‘examinee’? There is such thing as an “original role” as we commonly know it, but also a “derived role”, where the meaning of the original role is slightly altered, based on the context of that role; e.g., an examinee not only being an examinee whilst writing the exam, but also when she is studying before the exam, and once one is a murderer during the act of killing, one remains ‘a murderer’ for the remainder of one’s life (though, obviously, not permanently stuck in an act of killing). These derived roles have further, more detailed, specifications, which are summarized in the paper.
Another aspect of foundational ontologies is using them in domain ontology development, and the step prior to that: how to figure out what the ‘best’ foundational ontology is for your project. I co-authored a paper about that with my MSc student Zubeida Khan: ONSET: Automated Foundational Ontology Selection and Explanation , which was presented by her and also featured at the demo session where colleagues provided suggestions for more nice features. As mentioned in earlier blogposts (e.g., here), features of foundational ontologies were analysed, as well as criteria for selection of a foundational ontology and needs by existing ontology development projects, which were both used to design a tool, ONSET, that helps with automated selection of a foundational ontology and providing an explanation of the computed selection. Riichiro Mizoguchi—from the YAMATO foundational ontology and who was also attending the conference—has provided the values for the criteria of their foundational ontology in the meantime (thank you!), and you will see an updated ONSET very soon.
Some tools have been evaluated more rigorously than others, and there are a myriad of evaluation approaches. One that stands out by having used the Systems Usability Scale and a funny video during the presentation, is the evaluation of the Live OWL Documentation Environment LODE that automatically generates documentation of your ontology in one HTML page . One that stands out for its interesting results, is the paper about the effect of software-supported collaboration features in the ontology development environment . Marco Rospocher presented the user evaluation done with the MoKi modeling wiki with and without its collaboration features and evaluated their effect on ontology development. The collaborative ontology development went better with such features.
More papers deserve attention here (and I may add them later once I have read the papers), and likewise the mention of other people who attended and of which it was really pleasant to meet them again as well as some fist meeting-in-person after reading several of their papers over the years (among others, and in alphabetical order: Claudia d’Amato, Matthieu d’Aquin, Aldo Gangemi, Chiara Ghidini, Patrick Lambrix, Riichiro Mizoguchi, Marco Rospocher, Mari Carmen Suárez-Figueroa, and Michael Uschold), and to my pleasant surprise, there appear to be ontology enthusiasts in Senegal as well (Gaoussou Camara presented a poster about the use of the infectious diseases ontology).
The next EKAW conference in 2014 will be held in Sweden and I’m looking forward to participating again.
(note: I tried to find the freely available versions to link to, where I could not find them, the link points to the Springer page of the EKAW’12 proceedings)
 María Poveda-Villalón, Mari Carmen Suárez-Figueroa and Asunción Gómez-Pérez. Validating ontologies with OOPS!. EKAW’12. Springer LNAI vol 7603, pp 267-281.
 Sebastien Ferré and Sebastian Rudolph. Advocatus Diaboli – Exploratory enrichment of ontologies with negative constraints. EKAW’12. Springer LNAI vol 7603, pp 42-56.
 C. Maria Keet. Detecting and Revising Flaws in OWL Object Property Expressions. EKAW’12. Springer LNAI vol 7603, pp2 52-266.
 Osma Suominen and Eero Hyvönen. Improving the quality of SKOS vocabularies with Skosify. EKAW’12. Springer LNAI vol 7603, pp 383-397.
 Kouji Kozaki, Yoshinobu Kitamura and Riichiro Mizoguchi. A model of derived roles. EKAW’12. Springer LNAI vol 7603, pp 227-236.
 Zubeida Khan and C. Maria Keet. ONSET: Automated Foundational Ontology Selection and Explanation. EKAW’12. Springer LNAI vol 7603, pp 237-251.
 Silvio Peroni, David Shotton and Fabio Vitali. The Live OWL Documentation Environment: A tool for the automatic generation of ontology documentation. EKAW’12. Springer LNAI vol 7603, pp 398-412.
 Chiara Di Franscescomarino, Chiara Ghidini, and Marco Rospocher. Evaluating wiki-enhanced ontology authoring. EKAW’12. Springer LNAI vol 7603, pp 292-301.