Plenary 3 - Semantic Interoperability

    You are here

RDA Plenary 3  Thursday 27th March 2014 (Day 2) 1530-1700

Co-Chairs: Gary Berg-Cross, Raphael Ritz, &  Peter Wittenburg

Work and briefings at previous plenaries and among RDA WGs demonstrates a growing interest in the topic of semantic interoperability. The centrality of semantic issues was, for example, noted following the 1st Plenary.

Semantic issues and technologies are already part of the discussion on the RDA Forum.  Research communities need to adopt and deploy technologies that help them get the most from their data, understand context, and infer meaning.  The semantic web community has much to contribute to an enabling global infrastructure and it would be great to see greater involvement in the RDA. 

 Fran Berman (Professor of Computer Science, RPI, Chair of the Research Data Alliance/U.S.)

Despite decades of intensive work in the AI & knowledge engineering areas including more recently the semantic web, the goal of robust semantic interoperability remains elusive. 

One description of the base concept of "semantic interoperability" occurs in a paper by Heflin and Hendler in 2000.

"i.e., the difficulty in integrating resources that were developed using different vocabularies and different perspectives on the data. To achieve semantic interoperability, systems must be able to exchange data in such a way that the precise meaning of the data is readily accessible and the data itself can be translated by any system into a form that it understands."

Such re-use and integration of data from heterogeneous sources within and across discipline boundaries has not been routinely achieved.  Agreement on ways to improve forms of semantic interoperability remains a serious obstacle for achieving progress in the data (and RDA) community despite progress on development of ontologies.  Only few seem to be used in regular scientific practice in part because semantic formalisms are not well understood by domain or data scientists and they seem rigid and unwieldy and hard not easily understood but domain people. Further application of special technologies that infer, relate, interpret, and classify the implicit meanings of digital content are not easily adapted to the topical research interest or enfolded in traditional architectures. Researchers continue to look for simple and pragmatically flexible methods including supporting technologies that allows adapting semantic mappings to real, at hand problem at hand.


This session will be devoted to community discussion of common interests, issues and best practice solutions in the semantic interoperability space. Whenever possible focus will be given to discuss issues of semantic interoperability reflecting actual innovative, bridging activities made available from current research and development.