Ontologies and Software Language Engineering

Dragan Gašević, Fernando Silva Parreiras, Tobias Walter
Trying to advance the current practices for sharing data, resources and knowledge on the Web, the research community has been researching challenges around the idea of the Semantic Web. The central component of the Semantic Web are ontologies, commonly defined as formal and explicit definitions of shared domain conceptualizations. To have an interoperable and standardized set of technologies, the Semantic Web research offered a stack of standards and tools including automated reasoners and ontology languages, i.e., languages to describe formally a domain of discourse. This stack of standards and tools is popularly called semantic technologies. Among ontology languages, the Web Ontology Language (OWL) [4] is the most prominent.

Mainly, due to the similarities in the design of OWL and object-oriented languages, the research community started exploring a potential synergy. Indeed, OWL provides important features complementary to UML class-based modeling and OCL that improve software languages: it allows different ways of describing classes; it handles these descriptions as first-class entities; it provides additional constructs like transitive closure for properties; and it enables dynamic classification of objects based upon class descriptions.

The most notable work has been done on integrating ontologies and model-driven engineering, especially, for the tasks related to model-driven language engineering. As the OWL language is based on description logic, standard ontology reasoners can be used for various types of processing of software languages such as consistency checking, constraint validation, and query processing and with applications in different software engineering areas such as component-based software development, software product lines, or requirements engineering. For example, the knowledge encoded in OWL evolves independently of the execution logic, i.e., developers maintain class descriptions in the ontology and not in the software. Moreover, developers may use class descriptions to semantically query the domain. Semantic query plays an important role where shared terminologies, interoperability and consistency detection are required.

Striving to introduce the basics and potentials for ontologies for software language engineering, this tutorial aims to:

  1. define ontologies and the OWL language;
  2. describe basics of description logics-based reasoning designed for ontology languages;
  3. describe the current efforts on relations between the OWL language and languages such as UML, MOF and OCL; and
  4. illustrate applications of ontology-enhanced software
languages for software design patterns, software product lines, domain-specific languages, and software language refinement.

After the tutorial, participants will be able (1) to understand the concepts of ontologies, OWL language and its formal reasoning potentials; (2) to realize the valued added by ontology-enabled software languages and (3) to identify potential applications for semantic technologies in software development and different software language engineering approaches other than those based on model-driven engineering principles.

[1] Gaševic, Dragan, Djuric, Dragan, Devedžic, Vladan. Model Driven Engineering and Ontology Development. Springer, Berlin, 2. edition, 2009.

[2] F. Silva Parreiras and S. Staab. Using Ontologies with UML Class-based Modeling: The TwoUse Approach. Data Knowl. Eng. in press.

[3] F. Silva Parreiras, S. Staab, and A. Winter. Improving design patterns by description logics: A use case with abstract factory and strategy. In Modellierung 2008, volume P-127 of LNI, pages 89–104. GI, 2008.

[4] W3C OWL Working Group. OWL 2 Web Ontology Language Document Overview. W3C Working Draft 27 March 2009. Available at http://www.w3.org/TR/2009/WD-owl2-overview-20090327//.

[5] T. Walter, F. Silva Parreiras, and S. Staab. OntoDSL: An Ontology-Based Framework for Domain-Specific Languages. In Model Driven Engineering Languages and Systems, 12th International Conference, MODELS 2009, volume 5795, pages 408–422. Springer, 2009.

Author bios
Fernando Silva Parreiras, pursues his PhD since the beginning of 2006 under the supervision of Prof. Steffen Staab. He is the leader of the Special Interest Group Software Web at the Web Science and Technology Institute (WeST) at the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany. He has been investigating the integration of model-driven engineering and Ontology in the scope of the EU project MOST. His related publications include papers in Modellierung’2008, ER’2008, ICSC’2009, MoDELS’2009 and ECMFA 2010. He has served as program committee member of conferences like SLE and and workshops like ONTOSE and SWESE and as organizer of the TWOMDE workshop.

Dragan Gašević is a Canada Research Chair in Semantic Technologies and an Associate Professor in the School of Computing and Information Systems at Athabasca University. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University and an associated research member of the GOOD OLD AI Research Network at the University of Belgrade. He is a recipient of Alberta Ingenuity’s 2008 New Faculty Award. His research interests include semantic technologies, software language engineering, technology-enhanced learning, and service-oriented architectures. He has (co-)authored more than 200 research papers and delivered more than 10 tutorials at major conferences such as WWW, MODELS, CAiSE, and ISWC. He has been serving on editorial boards of three international journals and has edited special issues in journals such as IET Software and IEEE TSE. He has been the organizer, chair, and member of program committees of many international conferences.

Tobias Walter is PhD. student at the University of Koblenz-Landau under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Jürgen Ebert and Prof. Dr. Steffen Staab. Currently he is member of the Institute for Software Technology and the Institute for Web Science and Technology. Here, his research focuses on the combination of domain-specific modeling languages and different ontology technologies. Further he is interested in the design and use of new software modelling languages and its implementation in tools. From 2008 he is contributing to the MOST project where he is investigating the conceptual integration of Model-Driven Architecture (MDA) and Ontologies. His related publications include papers at MoDELS’2009, ECMFA’2010, WC-DSL’2009, ICSC’2009 and different workshops.

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Revision: r1.3 - 18 Oct 2010 - 20:14 - RobEconomopoulos
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