This project aims to open up the semantic web to a wide audience through novel techniques that allow viewing and editing of semantic web representation languages in ordinary natural language, as opposed to the methods currently used, such as source coding or graphical interfaces, which require significant training.

Meet the team

Click here to read about our team members:

Prof. Alan Rector (Manchester University)

Professor Donia Scott (Sussex University)

Dr Richard Power (Open University)

Dr Robert Stevens (Manchester University)

Dr Fennie Liang (Manchester University)

Dr Allan Third (Open University)

Dr Sandra Williams (Open University)

Mrs. Tu Anh Nguyen (Open University)


Please select one of our demonstrations by clicking here.


Funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) grant nos. G033579/1 and G032459/1.
Open University SWAT page.

During the last decade the Semantic Web community has established basic standards (e.g., RDF, OWL) for representing data and ontologies. However, these formalisms have been designed for computer processing and data exchange rather than for easy comprehension by people; OWL (the standard ontology language) in particular presents many conceptual hurdles for entry-level users. Wide access to the Semantic Web therefore depends on the development of transparent editing and viewing tools.

The main requirement for transparency is use of a medium that is accessible to a wide non-specialist audience; for this purpose, the obvious choice is natural language (e.g., English, French, Italian) text, supported where appropriate by familiar quasi-linguistic media like tables. We seek a set of principles by which logic-based descriptions (especially ontologies on the Semantic Web) can be associated with transparent formulations in natural languages. By applying these principles, we will demonstrate proof-of-concept tools that allow subject-matter experts to edit and query metadata on the Semantic Web through a reliable natural language interface. SWAT innovates by using the Open University's generation-based technology which obviates any need for parsing or interpretation of text, building on existing work (coordinated by an OWL 2 task force) to use controlled natural language input for knowledge formation on the Semantic Web.


Our techniques

Our techniques and tools are expected to be of interest to Semantic Web users who wish to encode or query knowledge without deep understanding of RDF, OWL, or the other specialist languages. We will focus on some typical use cases in the areas of health provision (NHS, Siemens, and WHO) and e-Science (MyGrid), and evaluate our results in a new application in the travel domain which will be used in Manchester University's OWL tutorial course.

Results will be made available to the wider Semantic Web community (e.g., through the OWL Controlled Natural Language task force coordinated by Ordnance Survey, and Stanford University's Protege site).

Copyright © SWAT 2009
updated 05.01.2010
A Manchester University, Open University and Sussex University collaboration
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