INFSCI 2180: Knowledge Representation and the Semantic Web

Instructor: Marek J. Druzdzel


(knowledge representation as a discipline) "has not yet changed the world ... ... to realize its full potential it must be linked into a single global system." --- Berners-Lee, T., Hendler, J. & Lassila, O., 2001, The semantic web, Scientific American, May, pp.35-43.
"The Semantic Web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation." --- Tim Berners-Lee

This course focuses on a fundamental problem faced by those who process information: Capturing and representation of knowledge in such a way that it is amenable to being processed by computer programs. While attempts to achieve this objective have been made in several disciplines, knowledge representation has been addressed directly in computer and information sciences by the discipline known as Artificial Intelligence. Researchers in artificial intelligence have developed a collection of approaches to representing and processing knowledge. Knowledge representation has achieved much interest in the framework of the effort to create the semantic net, i.e., a group of methods and technologies to allow machines to understand the meaning of information on the World Wide Web so that they can process this information directly or indirectly.

This course provides an introductory treatment of the problem of knowledge representation. We will review the following approaches:

  • propositional and first-order logic
  • ontologies
  • semantic networks
  • production rule systems
  • Bayesian networks
  • The intended participants of the course are students who want to learn more about knowledge representation in the context of the efforts to create the semantic web. While you will not become proficient in any of these methods (entire courses are devoted to each of these), this course will give you a general overview and will lay foundations for your future studies.

    As you might have already experienced by now, being an engineer or a scientist requires intelligence, independent, creative thinking, and most of all commitment to hard working. This course reinforces this. The material is not really difficult, but you will have to invest quality time in order to master it. The workload in this class will be moderately heavy, but I believe that you will find it interesting and important. I require your commitment, doing the readings, coming to classes, and being their active participant. In return, I promise that you will have fun and you will learn useful skills.

    Syllabus (Spring 2012, PDF)
    Marek Druzdzel's teaching page
    Marek Druzdzel's home page

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