An empirical study on how the distribution of ontologies affects reasoning on the web

Hamid R. Bazoobandi*, Jacopo Urbani, Frank van Harmelen, Henri Bal

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Web of Data is an inherently distributed environment where ontologies are located in (physically) remote locations and are subject to constant changes. Reasoning is affected by these changes, but the extent and significance of this dependency is not well-studied yet. To address this problem, this paper presents an empirical study on how the distribution of ontological data on the Web affects the outcome of reasoning. We study (1) to what degree datasets depend on external ontologies and (2) to what extent the inclusion of additional ontological information via IRI de-referencing and the owl:imports directive to the input datasets leads to new derivations. We based our study on many RDF datasets and on a large collection of RDFa, and JSON-LD data embedded into HTML pages. We used both Jena and Pellet in order to evaluate the results under different semantics. Our results indicate that remote ontologies are often crucial to obtain non-trivial derivations. Unfortunately, in many cases IRIs were broken and the owl:imports is rarely used. Furthermore, in some cases the inclusion of remote knowledge either did not yield any additional derivation or led to errors. Despite these cases, in general, we found that inclusion of additional ontologies via IRIs de-referencing and owl:imports directive is very effective for producing new derivations. This indicates that the two W3C standards for fetching remote ontologies have found their way into practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Semantic Web – ISWC 2017
Subtitle of host publication16th International Semantic Web Conference, Vienna, Austria, October 21–25, 2017, Proceedings, Part I
EditorsClaudia d'Amato, Miriam Fernandez, Valentina Tamma, Freddy Lecue, Philippe Cudré-Mauroux, Juan Sequeda, Christoph Lange, Jeff Heflin
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319682884
ISBN (Print)9783319682877
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event16th International Semantic Web Conference, ISWC 2017 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 21 Oct 201725 Oct 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10587 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference16th International Semantic Web Conference, ISWC 2017


This work is partially funded by the Dutch public-private research community COMMIT/ and NWO VENI project 40 639.021.335.

FundersFunder number
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek40 639.021.335


    • JSON-LD
    • OWL
    • RDF
    • RDFa
    • Reasoning
    • Web of data


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