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Re: [ontolog-forum] Presentation on Rules for Semantic Web

To: "Pathak, Jyotishman, Ph.D." <Pathak.Jyotishman@xxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 12:43:21 -0400
Message-id: <47178D29.2070100@xxxxxxxx>
Jyoti,    (01)

you wrote:    (02)

> Is there a study and/or a general opinion about which of these 3
> activities is more widely adopted, practical (in terms of
> applications) etc.?     (03)

Apart from propaganda, not that I know of.  The fact is that they are 
all essentially "academic" activities at this point.  I don't think 
there is any commercial development of SWRL, and there was no commercial 
involvement in RuleML until the last year or so, and even that is more 
"academic spinoff" and government-sponsored work.  Obviously the W3C 
effort (RIF) has the most caché, and it has both academic and commercial 
participation, but it isn't yet stable enough to have implementations. 
SWRL was published as a W3C member submission in 2004, has not gained 
any greater status, and the only implementations I have heard of were 
academic prototypes (someone's thesis).  I know of only a few tools that 
speak some dialect of RuleML.    (04)

But OWL and RDF were government-sponsored efforts with almost entirely 
academic participation until they achieved visibility as W3C standards, 
and then the floodgates opened.  So "widely adopted" is really a matter 
of filling a need and achieving buzzword status, and my money would be 
on RIF, but that it is the least advanced work of the lot.    (05)

There are two other activities I omitted, both recently published and 
available online from the Object Management Group (www.omg.org):    (06)

- the Production Rules Representation specification is a simple model of 
condition/action rules that has a standard XML representation per OMG 
XMI.  It was developed by major commercial rules engine vendors -- ILOG, 
Fair-Isaac, Computer Associates, et al.  Their blurb says they intend to 
use a subset of RIF as the official XML exchange form when RIF is done.    (07)

- the Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Rules specification is 
purportedly about the capture and exchange of rules, but its formal 
basis is foggy.  What it seems really to be about is getting a formal 
form in which "what business people said" can be captured and exchanged. 
  So it is all about linking the terms used in rules to formal and 
natural language definitions.  In that way, it is much closer to the 
Attempto "controlled English" kind of thing.  There was no clear intent 
that the formalized statements should be inputs to any class of 
reasoning engine, although at least two of the participants have some 
engine that will be able to do something meaningful with some subset of it.    (08)

The PRR will almost certainly have implementations by several commercial 
rules engine vendors, so that they can sell diverse decision support, 
workflow management, EAI and software generation applications to the 
same major customers.  (That is why they got together to make the 
standard.)  As to SBVR, IMO, the "vocabulary" part is more likely to be 
valuable than the "rules" part.    (09)

As I said earlier, "rules" is just too big an umbrella.  Validating data 
sets, transforming data, directing action, performing directed 
reasoning, providing guidance, and capturing and interpreting policy and 
regulation are all applications of "rules" that involve different but 
overlapping technologies.  When you know what kind of problem you want 
to solve, then you can talk about the "rules" concepts and activities 
that are relevant to solving that class of problem.  That is why the 
RuleML effort resulted in 5 languages.  And for the same reason, we 
probably won't see "widely adopted standards", because no single "rules 
technology" addresses more than a small part of the spectrum of "rules 
applications".    (010)

-Ed    (011)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (012)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (013)

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