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Description logics are embodied in several knowledge-based systems and are used to develop various real-life applications. Now in paperback, The Description Logic Handbook provides a thorough account of the subject, covering all aspects of research in this field, namely: theory, implementation, and applications. Its appeal will be broad, ranging from more theoretically oriented readers, to those with more practically oriented interests who need a sound and modern understanding of knowledge representation systems based on description logics. As well as general revision throughout the book, this new edition presents a new chapter on ontology languages for the semantic web, an area of great importance for the future development of the web. In sum, the book will serve as a unique resource for the subject, and can also be used for self-study or as a reference for knowledge representation and artificial intelligence courses.
Knowledge Representation is the field of Artificial Intelligence that focuses on the design of formalisms that are both epistemologically and computationally adequate for expressing knowledge about a particular domain. One of the main lines of investigation has been concerned with the principle that knowledge should be represented by characterizing classes of objects and the relationships between them The organization of the classes used to describe a domain of interest is based on a hierarchical structure, which not only provides an effective and compact representation of information, but also allows the relevant reasoning tasks to be performed in a computationally effective way.
The above principle drove the development of the first frame-based systems and semantic networks in the 1970s. However, these systems were in general not formally defined and the associated reasoning tools were strongly dependent on the implementation strategies. A fundamental step towards a logic-based characterization of required formalisms was accomplished through the work on the Kl-One system, which collected many of the ideas stemming from earlier semantic networks and frame-based systems, and provided a logical basis for interpreting objects, classes (or concepts), and relationships (or links, roles) between them. The first goal of such a logical reconstruction was the precise characterization of the set of constructs used to build class and link expressions. The second goal was to provide reasoning procedures that are sound and complete with respect to the semantics.
Since the publication of the first edition of The Description Logic Handbook in 2003, the interest in Description Logics (DL) has steadily increased. This applies both to the number of active DL researchers working on DL theory and implementations of reasoning services, and to the number of applications based on DL technology. One effect of this growing interest was that the first edition of the Handbook has gone through quite a number of reprints. Another effect is, of course, that in the last three years there have been interesting new developments in the three areas (theory, implementation, and applications) that the Handbook covers. Despite that, we feel that most chapters of the Handbook still provide a good introduction to the field and lay a solid foundation that enables the reader to understand and put into context the research articles describing results since 2003. For this reason, we have decided to leave most of the chapters unchanged.
The principal exception is Chapter 14, which in the first edition was entitled “Digital Libraries and Web-Based Information Systems.” This chapter provided a selected history of the use of Description Logics in web-based information systems, and the developments related to emerging web ontology languages such as OIL and DAML+OIL. Since the writing of this chapter, the new language OWL has been developed and recommended by the World Wide Web consortium as the standard web ontology language for the Semantic Web.