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DAML WebScripter Informal Statement of Work

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DAML WebScripter:
Informal Statement of Work
for Mar. 2001 { Mar. 2002

Martin Frank, Pedro Szekely, Bob Neches)
{ frank, szekely, rneches } @isi. edu University of Southern California
Information Sciences Institute

March 14, 2001

1 Summary
The focus of our work is WebScripter, a tool that enables ordinary users
to easily and quickly produce live reports that extract and fuse information
from multiple heterogeneous sources.
Our effort has always explicitly focused on incentivizing both consumers
and producers to use DAML. WebScripter's immediate value for consumers
is obvious { they can explore the available DAML data and construct reports
combining data from many sources.
WebScripter also has implicit value for DAML producers because the
entry cost for using DAML+ WebScripter for Web site data is now comparable
to using plain XML+ XSL | and it has the additional advantages of being
able to pull in distributed data and being able to make its data available to
the outside world.
Over the next year we want to continue working on the consumer side by
improving the power and ease-of-use of WebScripter [section 2.1]. However,
the rate at which interesting DAML markup is being produced indicates that
a heightened emphasis on producers is also desirable. Insights developed
in the past year have suggested some easy and high-payoff ways in which

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WebScripter can support and encourage DAML producers by (a) adding a
simple Web-based tool for non-technical users to contribute instance data and
(b) by making WebScripter an "insidious collaborative ontology translation
tool" by explicitly writing out the articulation ontology that every multi-source
WebScripter report implicitly represents. This thrust on incentives
for DAML producers is described in section 2. 2].
Our dual focus on providing incentives both to produce and to consume
DAML is pervasive throughout our testbed application. We will continue to
deploy DAML applications within our own organization [section 3. 1]. Ex-ternally,
we are investigating the possibility of a connection with Intelink
[section 3. 2], and otherwise expect to move forward in the area of aviation
safety reports [section 3.3]. We are also implementing two joint applications
with fellow DAML contractors that focus on showcasing DAML technology
itself: a distributed heterogeneous-ontologies DAML application for Infor-mation
Technology talks in collaboration with UMBC [section 4.1], and one
for dynamic DAML tool discovery and invocation with Stanford/ Karlsruhe
[section 4.2].
As a result of the efforts planned for the upcoming year: (1) the tools
will be in place for painless use of DAML { rather than plain XML { for
producing Web pages, and (2) mechanisms will be in place through which
DAML data can be automatically discovered and combined by mining the
DAML articulation ontology output of other people's WebScripter reports.
These will combine to provide compelling demonstrations, both technical and
applied, of the value of DAML semantic mark-up.

2 Research Directions
This section describes the main thrust of our work.

2.1 Interactive Definition of WebScripter Reports
The core of our effort was, is, and will be easy-to-use interactive DAML data
discovery and custom report generation.
We are currently near completion of a tool that given a list of DAML
URLs will read that content and display a hierarchical outline of classes on
the left. Selecting any class will produce a table on the right which contains

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one column per possible attribute and one row per instance; thus the barrier
of entry to one's first WebScripter report is significantly lowered.
Below are the next steps in advancing our interactive tools.

1. Let users filter out properties and instances in the above auto-generated
reports. [the underlying report generator can already handle this, but
users have to edit the textual report specification XML]

2. Let users interactively show the content of multiple classes in a single
report. [ditto]

3. Migrate from our current in-memory processing of RDF to a MYSQL
database because there is starting to be too much content to process
in-memory, even just for the DAML data at ISI. (This is in preparation
for the next item.)

4. Implement a first version of the by-demonstration report specification
feature described in section D of our original proposal. That is, users
will be able to create reports not by navigating ontological classes but
rather by typing out examples of the content they are looking for. For
example, typing "Pedro", "Martin", and "Baoshi" into cells of a col-umn
of a new spreadsheet will make WebScripter guess the ontological
type( s) for the content and offer sibling content for the other columns of
the report(" email", "phone number"). [implementing this well in terms
of easy of use and quick response is several months worth of effort by

5. Better support for WebScripter reports that do not naturally corre-spond
to a single table. At the moment, the data structure underlying
a WebScripter report is a table which permits multiple values per cell.
However, we have found that it is often more natural and easier to cre-ate
several related tables and then combine them in a post-processing
step. For example, the Marine Corps application screen shots consist
of one table listing the screen shots and another one listing comments
about the screen shots, which we then combine into the final HTML
page (using hand-written XSL). We would like to make this an inte-grated
and more end-user accessible feature of WebScripter itself.

We are also working on a low-cost HTML-form-based tool for creating
DAML instances (not ontologies) by simply clicking on a link in a WebScripter-based
HTML page. This is a smallish but worthwhile effort because we can

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then point non-technical users to WebScripter reports and ask them to fill in
data for us. For example, we plan to use this to let our Marine Corps users in
the CAMERA project add comments and requests to the DAMLized list of
screen shots we already have. (We have no intention to provide any interac-tive
tools for DAML ontologies as other groups provide some, e. g. Karlsruhe's
OntoEdit and Stanford's Protege.)
We have deemphasized the idea of building a point-and-click tool for
HTML Web pages with embedded DAML, mainly simply because that is
not the direction that DAML seems to be headed in { virtually all existing
DAML content is in stand-alone files.

2.2 Insidious Collaborative Ontology Translation
One of the unforeseen uses of WebScripter reports is to use them to build
articulation ontologies. We plan to enhance our reports to write out the
articulation ontology that is inherent in any WebScripter report, in a way so
that it can be used to draw inferences about the ontological equivalence of
the original source ontologies.
WebScripter already allows users to combine the content of multiple on-tologies
into a single cell, say "Karlsruhe: Vorname" and "ISI: FirstName".
This is nice because it gets someone's job done in the here and now but
we had previously seen this as a "dead end" effort.
We now believe that there could be great benefit by capturing how these
DAML sources were used so that others can benefit from that information.
That is we will capture "Captain Miller, working for the Air Force Intelligence
Office, considered Karlsruhe: Vorname and ISI: FirstName to be equivalent for
his purposes on March 12, 2001".
This opens up whole new possibilities, such as Amazon-like inferences
such as "80% of people who used ISI: FirstName also used Karlsruhe: Vorname"
{ in effect, it can be used for world-wide insidious 1 collaborative ontology
1 "Insidious" because individual users don't provide ontology translation information

out of altruism but rather produce it as a side effect of their regular job -and they may not even know about this side effect.

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3 Application Targets
3.1 ISI
We fully recognize that there is no DAML program credit for using our own
tools to organize and process our own content (as we have done for the
division people page and the Marine Corps application screen shots).
At the same time, we also recognize that persuading others to use our
tools will be difficult if we are not able and willing to use them ourselves.
Hence, we will continue to deploy WebScripter DAML applications within
our division, and evangelize within ISI and USC.

3.2 Intelink
We are pursuing three technical contributions that WebScripter can make to
Intelink: report generation, maintenance of audit trails, and "query mining."
More specifically, the ability of WebScripter to generate multiple alter-native
views and presentations of an underlying data collection appears to
have high potential value for Intelink customers. The mechanisms by which
WebScripter reports are constructed make it very easy to keep an audit trail
that identifies the sources of information used in the report. WebScripter
can present that information either within the report, as a supporting re-port,
or as drill-down into the report. This also has significant value in the
intelligence environment.
The process of constructing a WebScripter report gives insight into what
information is needed to analysts. By looking at what information is missing
after a WebScripter report is constructed, it becomes possible to give infor-mation
providers feedback about what customers want but are not getting
from the materials (e. g., "information in this ontology category was offered
by other providers but not by you" or "information about this ontology cat-egory
was requested but not supplied by anyone"). We call this last process
"query mining" because of the important ability it provides for information
providers to find out what consumers want to know, as opposed to the onus
on consumers to find out what data is available.
These ideas, as part of our notion of insidious ontology translation, were
discussed with David Martin-McCormick, and both his current and former
bosses, during demonstrations the Friday after the DAML PI Meeting. At
their request, follow-up is scheduled later in March.

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3.3 Aviation Safety Reports
We are exploring in parallel military interest in the Marine Corps and civilian
interest at FAA in modernizing the electronic format of aircraft safety inci-dent
reports. These documents cover the nature of each incident, personnel
and equipment involved, circumstances, prevailing conditions, and conse-quences.
There is intense interest in improving the ability to analyze these
records in order to understand patterns and causal linkages. WebScripter
contributes by providing a tool to create complex queries to mine the data.

As part of this application (as well as Intelink and current applications at
PACOM), we are still pursuing connections to GeoWorlds, focusing upon (1)
leveraging that system to display map-based reports in addition to tabular
displays; (2) developing a complementary relationship between GeoWorlds
search capabilities for unmarked materials and WebScripter's interface to
DAML-ized materials; and (3) using GeoWorlds exiting HTML distilling ca-pabilties
to generate DAML mark-up for plain HTML pages.

4 Collaboration with other DAML Contrac-tors

This appendix lists our planned collaboration with other groups. There is
some vagueness to the actual amount of effort that we will expend to work
with other groups; this is intentional because work in direct support of a
government application (such as Intelink) will likely supercede and supplant
some of the effort we would otherwise spend with other DAML contractors.

4.1 Tim Finin's Group (UMBC, JHU)
contact: Tim Finin, finin@ umbc. edu
We will create new computer science talks DAML data (for ISI and the
USC Computer Science Department) according to our own ontology.
We will then exercise WebScripter's capabilities to not just create com-bined
reports of the UMBC and ISI talks data, but also to write out ontology
translation DAML statements.

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This way, e. g. a third university listing their IT talks and others can do so
by building on the ontological-equivalence DAML statements about UMBC
and ISI written out by previous WebScripter reports.
This could provide the nucleus for other Computer Science departments
to participate in DAML-based heterogeneous-ontology exchange of CS talks

4.2 Karlsruhe (subcontractor to the Stanford DB Group)
contact: Siegfried Handschuh (handschuh@ acm. org), Stefan Decker (ste-fan@
db. stanford. edu), Rudi Studer, Gio Wiederhold
Karlsruhe and ISI would like to cooperate on building simple initial het-erogeneous
DAML service ontologies that can eventually be used to dynam-ically
discover and invoke DAML viewers on the Web. Among other things,
this effort will . . .

1. lead to an available and self-updating list of available DAML tools and
services at Stefan Decker's semanticweb. org

2. make Karlsruhe's and ISI's existing Java-based DAML viewers available
as services on the Web

3. exercise WebScripter's new ontology translation capabilities
4. achieve some initial semantic interoperability of services that advertise
their capabilities via heterogeneous-ontologies DAML

A Detailed Work Plan with Karlsruhe/ Stanford
DB group

This appendix elaborates on 4. 2. (We are still working on producing a more
detailed work plan with UMBC; its absence in this report should not be
construed as us preferring one collaborator over another | we see each as
equally important.)
The phasing we envision with Karlsruhe/ Stanford is roughly as follows:

1. Create a "shallow" upper ontology of currently available DAML tools
(parsers, crawlers, viewers, editors). [Karlsruhe]

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2. Classify currently available tools according to that ontology. [all]
3. Create polished WebScripter reports of the available tools. [ISI]
4. Put up this living (self-refreshing) list of DAML tools on semanticweb. org
[Stefan Decker, support from ISI]

5. Create a dedicated ontology for a Web-based DAML viewer (a servlet
that when given a list of URLs will load the DAML and render it
to HTML in some fashion) [both Karlsruhe and ISI, independently,
separately conceived ontologies, separately written viewing service]. 2

6. Use WebScripter to map each ontology into the semanticweb. org ontol-ogy
(as a result, the viewing services show up on Stefan's Web page).
[ISI and Karlruhe]

7. Use WebScripter to produce DAML that asserts the equivalence of
invocation parameters of the two viewing services. [ISI]

8. Write a program that takes a DAML database, dynamically discovers
available viewers by consulting WebScripter ontology equivalence infor-mation,
and then actually invokes one of the viewing services. [Karl-sruhe
and ISI]

This final step presents some first semantic interoperability at the tool
level (new viewing services can be discovered and incorporated without hav-ing
to re-write any code of the invoking program). Our effort intentionally
stops short of fully-automatic ontology translation (there are other DAML
contractors funded to do that); instead, in at least one WebScripter report
somewhere in the world someone must have specified the mapping of a new
viewing ontology to another one (that in turn via transitive closure can even-tually
be mapped into the viewing service ontology that the program of the
last step above internally uses).

2 Java-based viewing services already exist on both sides { they just need to be hooked
up to a servlet. In particular, Karlsruhe has a graph-based viewer that is well suited for ontology-centric DAML; while ISI has tabular views that are well suited for instance-centric


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