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SPARQL Graduates to W3C Recommendation

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the mazel-tov dept.

Programming 111

KjetilK writes "The W3C just gave SPARQL the stamp of approval. SPARQL is a query language for the Semantic Web, and differs from other query languages in that is usable across different data sources. There are already 14 implementations of the spec available. Most of them are free software. There are also billions of relations out there that are query-able, thanks to the Linking Open Data project. The structured data of Wikipedia is now query-able at DBpedia. Also, have a look at Ivan Herman's presentations on this topic."

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111 comments

Query (4, Funny)

minginqunt (225413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22070772)

A query language for the semantic web...

A what for the what now?

I'd always assumed the semantic web was some meaningless and faded buzzword designed to keep the W3C away from useful stuff. Is it back again with a vengeance?

THE SEMANTIC WEB II: THIS TIME IT'S FOLKSONOMY

Eek.

Re:Query (3, Funny)

verbalcontract (909922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22070834)

I spent a minute trying to find out what this was all about, and came upon this from Tim Berners-Lee:

The Semantic Web isn't just about putting data on the web. It is about making links, so that a person or machine can explore the web of data. With linked data, when you have some of it, you can find other, related, data.

Like the web of hypertext, the web of data is constructed with documents on the web. However, unlike the web of hypertext, where links are relationships anchors in hypertext documents written in HTML, for data they links between arbitrary things described by RDF,. The URIs identify any kind of object or concept. But for HTML or RDF, the same expectations apply to make the web grow:

1. Use URIs as names for things

2. Use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names.

3. When someone looks up a URI, provide useful information.

4. Include links to other URIs. so that they can discover more things.

Simple.

So, uh, yeah. I'm just as stumped as you are.

Re:Query (4, Insightful)

minginqunt (225413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22070906)

So, uh, yeah. I'm just as stumped as you are.

Maybe I'm just your regular Homer, but reading that, I only make it as far as the second paragraph before my mind has already wandered off to a magical land of (Beer/Chocolate/Boobies)*.

*delete as appropriate

Re:Query (2, Funny)

fromeroj (1164387) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078154)

mmmhhh Chocolate Boobies...

Re:Query (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078292)

Do I really *have* to delete any ?

It is really simple (4, Informative)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071014)

Oh, it is actually really simple. See, first thing is that you link two documents. That's good old HTML. Then, you realise that you would want to link anything. Like persons. So, you give those persons a URI. You can't retrieve a person over the Internet, that's why it is a URI, not a URL, but you can get a description of the person. And then you realise that you want to say something about the nature of the relationship. So you put in a third URI that says something about the relationship. For example that the person knows that other person, or is his son, or something.

so

<http://www.kjetil.kjernsmo.net/foaf#me> <http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/knows> <http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/card#i>

simply says that I know timbl. I hope you're less stumped than you used to be.

If you grok this, you've grokked 90% of RDF.

Re:It is really simple (4, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071108)

Let me (perhaps over-) simplify this for you.
Stupid Question Language (SQL) does great for two dimensional sets of data.
Special Peoples' Advanced Retarded Question language (SPARQL) is meant for return results from tree-shaped lumps of textual data, and lets you use regular expressions to figure out where you are in the tree and match nodes and attributes and stuff.
I think smart money is going to continue to arrange data in sets, and in five years, your SQL knowledge will still be serving you in quite good stead.

Re:It is really simple (1)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071218)

Yup, that's a gross oversimplification. SQL is not very well suited for the kind of stuff we're talking about. It is very constrained, and doesn't help you in large data integration problems. There are a lot of money in huge data integration problems. And that's where most of the money up to now has been, big industry merges, high-level execs realising their SQL doesn't cut it. And that's why Oracle is on board. But SPARQL is most interesting when people are exposing data on the open web, and we're starting to exploit those data.

Re:It is really simple (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073020)

It's amazing how the generally agreed upon display format is tabular / grid for pretty much any large collection of data. The other agreed upon format is a tree view, but that is for a narrow view of data.

It's easy to understand, it works well with the existing tools, and it fits our two dimensional screens. If you can't figure out how to get what you want out of a dataset with SQL, maybe you need to consider getting people with a specialized skillset. You don't get a Web developer to code in C. You don't get a C developer to write Web code. Why do people insist on getting app guys to write database code?

Layne

Re:It is really simple (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074356)

If you can't figure out how to get what you want out of a dataset with SQL, maybe you need to consider getting people with a specialized skillset
SQL has very limited expressiveness. As an example, you can't write a transitive closure of a relation in SQL. As a specific example example, if you have a table describing the parent relation, you can't write an SQL statement that will give you anyone who is the ancestor of someone else.

Re:It is really simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22071652)

SQL is for *N-DIMENSIONAL* data sets. Not 2-dimensional.

This tuple:

(12, "Joe", "Smith", "123 Main Street", "Smithfield", "AB", "12345")

describes a point in a 7-dimensional space, for instance.

And yes, obviously the highly constrained world of SPARQL (or XML query languages, or object DB's, or whatever crap-du-jour) is not going to be the solution to most data management problems. I would even hesitate to call the semantic web "data management", since it's more like adding machine-readable metadata.

Re:It is really simple (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072828)

How is that describing a point in 7-dimensional space? I don't need 7 coordinates to find that point, I need one: 12.

Re:It is really simple (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073062)

You assume 12 is the generated primary key. 12 could very well be a data point (age?, shoe size?). It is a perfectly value tuple.

Layne

Re:It is really simple (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078912)

Yes, but it's an sssumption based on the evidence. Otherwise you'd need, at minumum, a 4-column primary key (first name, last name, address, and either state/province or postal code).

That and 12 appears before the more important details, such as first name and last name.

Yes, these are just anecdotal evidence, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Re:It is really simple (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079034)

On row, seven columns.
I guess it's a bun fight over whether a column is a dimension.

Re:It is really simple (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079188)

I guess I'm stupid then 'cause I'd put 1/2 my little pile of $ on trees. NXD's disencumber the database developer from having to writet complex mapping code to put hierarchical data in a relational store. In my little corner of the IT wood, I'd say 50% of my data is relational and 50% is hierarchical. Experiences may very but if you have any amount of hierarchical data it sure is nice to not have to worry about that mapping layer. I've done the materialized path, nested intervals, etc. it's all a step in the right direction but for an organization looking to the minimize their code baggage, it sure is nice to make the leap to an NXD; suddenly huge buckets of esoteric code get mothballed. And you're investing in a slower changing standard like xquery (which I view as closer to the declarative end of the spectrum) instead of a more dynamically evolving convetional language (closer to the procedural end of the spectrum), the latter I believe has a higher TCO and, when architecting new systems, bears a higher risk.

Re:It is really simple (4, Funny)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072012)

Good lord, you actually have content there. Sweet Zombie Jesus, it's like if MySpace was irradiated with XML-Rays and mutated into a complete XML-based social network specification [xmlns.com] , which requires everyone to write their own specifications and hand-edit XML files.

That's just ... scary.

Re:It is really simple (2, Interesting)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073476)

Hehe, well, yeah, FOAF's been around for ages, it predates pretty much the whole social networking craze. But the XML thing is kinda arbitrary, it is just one of several ways to write RDF. I don't really write RDF as XML by hand anymore, except for that single file. I might use RDF/XML if it is generated, if I hand-write, I use Turtle [w3.org] .

Anyway, FOAF + SIOC [sioc-project.org] + Policy Aware Web [policyawareweb.org] comprises pretty good solutions to the data portability and privacy considerations people have been screaming about lately.

Re:Query (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079300)

That's the grand hand wavy vision. The essence of is that the more structure you add to data, the more structure there is to examine, and that common structures make that examination easier to do.

The Semantic Web has been a reality for years now (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22070880)

Every time there is a story about the Semantic Web here, people trot out the old "It's utopian vaporware" nonsense. The technologies that stand behind the term "Semantic Web" have existed for nearly a decade now and have produced much fruit. Just see Visualizing the Semantic Web [amazon.com] by Geroimenko & Chen (Springer-Verlag, 2nd ed. 2005) which has plenty of real-world examples of using these technologies to get real work done.

Sure, the average joe isn't producing semantically meaningful markup when he uses his whizbang Web 2.0 sites, but then again what the average joe produces isn't worth all that much anyway. Even if the Semantic Web doesn't expand to include all Internet activity, it has and continues to do much good.

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (3, Insightful)

minginqunt (225413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22070938)

Sure, the average joe isn't producing semantically meaningful markup when he uses his whizbang Web 2.0 sites, but then again what the average joe produces isn't worth all that much anyway. Even if the Semantic Web doesn't expand to include all Internet activity, it has and continues to do much good.

Cutting a swathe through your charmingly misplaced snobbery for a second, the ideal thing would be for you to provide a useful example or two of this human thing called SEMANTIWEB, and explain to silly old me how it has already changed my life but I'm just too gosh darned ordinary to have noticed.

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22071008)

The OP did already refer you to a book, so why are you asking for examples?

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22071278)

Maybe because he wants a quick example that doesn't require him buying a book.

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (5, Informative)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071138)

Well, no, it hasn't changed your life just yet, but you could check out a few links in the story, there is a lot of potential there. I'm not going to run off on conspiracy theories, but it is pretty clear that many big players likes to keep things under locks, that's a hurdle that makes this take slightly longer.

In my submission, I gave an example query, which you can run at DBPedia with their standard prefixes:

SELECT ?name ?birth ?death ?person WHERE
{ ?person skos:subject ;
                    dbpedia2:birth ?birth ;
                    foaf:name ?name .
OPTIONAL { ?person dbpedia2:death ?death }
FILTER (?birth "1945-01-01"^^xsd:date) . }
ORDER BY ?name"

What this says is "give me the name, birth data and death date of a person that has the following properties:
It is a computer scientist, who has a birth day and a name and optionally a death date, then filter based on the date and order it by name.

There are now billions of such stuff you can query, and if you're open minded, it could indeed change your life.

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22071364)

Oh, come on. I can't be the only one that noticed that example doesn't work...

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (1)

Yold (473518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071480)

The thing that bugs me a lot about this so-called semantic web is its reliance on humans to be accurate. Our minds do not operate on the same clear-cut logic as a machine, in other words we are able to make inferences from semantics.

To use your current example, what if your person was classified as a "programmer", or "software engineer" rather than a computer scientist? I understand that there are varying meanings for that word, my computer-science teach used to call first year students "computer-scientists" although they were inexperienced n00bs w/o a good understanding of the subject.

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073168)

Theoretically, classification is not a singleton value but a list of values.

My classifications could include "league bowler" "husband" "programmer" "database programmer" "texas resident" etc.

Layne

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (1)

zlamma (962382) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074196)

Yeah, but this would just be tagging :)
In RDF, since you can relate any resource (i.e. concept) to any other, you can also relate "tags" (e.g. rdf:type properties) to each other. RDF features some simple inference-enabling vocabulary for creating taxonomies out of these, OWL offers even more and this is not the limit.
Then you can easily discover similar "tags" by analysing the number of common instances and semantic distance between them both in the taxonomy created by RDF/OWL vocabulary as well as any other.

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074750)

A great example of this is the results for the sample query "Mayors of US cities higher than 1000m" -- of the ten results, Roger Reed, mayor of Fredericktown, Ohio, is mayor of a city that is 1090 feet above sea level.

Or, to generalize: (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22075942)

The thing that bugs me a lot about this so-called semantic web is its reliance on humans to be accurate. Our minds do not operate on the same clear-cut logic as a machine, in other words we are able to make inferences from semantics.

Or, to generalize: the problem with the "semantic web" is that Good Old-Fashioned AI [wikipedia.org] failed, and somebody seems to have failed to get the memo. The "semantic web" really is just "expert systems [wikipedia.org] , now with XML! (but don't call them that!)." Somebody failed to read or understand late Wittgenstein [stanford.edu] .

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071838)

In my submission, I gave an example query, which you can run at DBPedia with their standard prefixes:

Maybe my own search skills are rusty, but I couldn't find actual documents anywhere in the site, just various gibberish examples. In other words, is there actual documentation - especially a list of properties - anywhere ?

It changed my life! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22077376)

Yesterday, I searched for myself on DBPedia and found one row
containing my name, birth date and death date which seems to be today!
WTF! :|

What's the difference from regular SQL ? (1)

bigmouth_strikes (224629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22077780)

So what's the big improvement of your example over, say

SELECT name, birth, death from person
WHERE yada, yada, yada (or perhaps OUTER JOIN depending on the structure)
AND birth = '1945-01-01'
ORDER BY name

I really can't see that the query syntax will change anyone's life. I'm sure that data sets that are non-relational and 2D will be a great thing and that the query language for it won't.

Re:What's the difference from regular SQL ? (1)

Gromgull (209379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078218)

The difference is in the underlying data-model. SPARQL queries RDF, which has URIs identifying each column, so you cannot have just "name", you need to have http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/name [xmlns.com] (abbreviated to foaf:name, with a proper prefix defn.)
Also, since RDF is a graph you are not just querying for DB rows, you are querying for paths through the graph, letting you query for things like "the mother of the sister of the creator of the movies with over 9 rating on IMDB" without using a JOIN syntax. (Of course, there is a join there, if thinking in RDBMS terms makes you happy, think of RDF as a large table of rows (i.e. triples) with three columns: (subject, predicate, object))

It should be obvious that SPARQL is NOT trying to invent a new syntax, in fact - the syntax is as close to SQL as possible, only changing the bits that need changing to fit with RDF.

Re:What's the difference from regular SQL ? (1)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078928)

Yup, this really doesn't change so much. What is the true utility about the semantic web isn't syntax, it is the fact that you can query across very diverse data sources. If you have a look at the open linking data project page, that I linked in the story, you'll see a figure showing the data sources you can currently use, they are in the process of putting up endpoints for them, takes a while to do. It is like you'll have all that data in one large database, where you would give everyone a username and password so that they could maintain their own data. Which is something that just won't happen.

Re:The Semantic Web has been a reality for years n (1)

The_reformant (777653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079140)

The hurdle I have always seen with these kind of meta-data collections is that it is a huge amount of for the large part manual effort to convert the plentiful textual data into "semantic" meta data. For example its easy for a person to know that something like "DOB: 1/1/01", "foo was born on Jan, 1, 1901", "foo born son of bar in the late 16th century" and a picture of a family tree with dates on it all represent the same semantic data but how can we extract that with little effort.

As far as I can tell the semantic web solution is to meta-tag by hand which is going to lead to problems such as interpretation, for example imagine classifying musical genres and you already run into problems, are acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y gabriela "metal", "pop", "flamenco", "acoustic", all of the above? That is of course not to say the enormous amount of manual (or at best semi-automated) work involved in the tagging.

Further the space of semantic relations between an arbitrary set of objects is enormous (certainly lower bounded by n!, and given you can have an arbitrary selection of semantic relation types the total space is essentially infinite). Your example isn't actually very useful if you are researching computer scientists where DOB and DOD arent really very relevant. Can I for example make the much more useful query on Computer Scientists who have published at least 10 journal articles and who are alo behaviourists but not connectionists? It requires a domain expert to give judgement on exactly what denotes a behaviourist or a connectionist, and some of that information might be inferred. For example if a person has published a paper on novel back propagation techniques for neural nets they are probably a connectionist.

All this basically means is that by necesity the semantic space is (and always will be) sparsely populated until we have solved the natural language semantics problem. Which means that most of the time the data that someone would want to query for just won't be there.

Re:Query (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071710)

Here's IMO the sign that the W3C needs a swift kick in the pills. A query language for the semantic web?

The W3C is past its usefulness and needs a shakedown IMO.

Re:Query (1)

eh2o (471262) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073280)

Unfortunately, many examples of what people call "Web 2.0" consists of half-assed implementations (more like "Web 1.5") created by programmers who never bothered to understand RDF. Tagging is a great example of this. Tagging is RDF with a missing relation operator, in other words--meaningless junk.

RDF databases really shine when you start pulling XML from multiple data sources. All the feeds can then be dumped into a single generic three-column table, slap a SPARQL implementation on top of that, and you can instantly have all the expressive query power that is normally found in SQL without having to create a static schema.

Amazon, Google, and other large-scale data providers are already serving up useful data by the gob-full -- tools like SPARQL will do wonders for making that data accessible.

Re:Query (1)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074328)

SPARQL is a query language for RDF data. Or more specifically, a pattern matching system for graphs with named nodes and edges. Yes, lots of people who talk about it use so many buzzwords that they sound like marketing dweebs on a caffeine overdose, but when you scrape off all the buzzwords and misdirected enthusiasm, what's left is actually somewhat useful.

Though you might argue that they could just as well use a single database table and normal SQL.

Re:Query (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22072006)

Oh come on, you could've done better than that.

He thought he could tag it all...
But one man stood in his way.
Now he's back for justice!

Semantic Web II: This time, it's PARSABLE

Oblig. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22070798)

Mr Sparquru! You have very lucky dishes!

Re:Oblig. (1)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072292)

This is no place for loafers. Join me or die.

SPARQL Motion (3, Funny)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22070852)

"Sometimes, I doubt your commitment to SPARQL Motion! "

With apologies to Donnie Darko [imdb.com] ...

Re:SPARQL Motion (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22080696)

Thanks for the chuckle.

Now, whenever my co-workers ask me why I'm reading about this I'll just tell them that "Frank made me do it."

Semantic Web Quite Important (3, Interesting)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22070866)

Though the Semantic web is not important for the casual user--I think Google is pretty good now--but for a machine trying to converse with a human being, the semantic web is a great advance. I myself have an open source project on Googlecode that had a place holder for just this item. Thank god it's coming along.

Re:Semantic Web Quite Important (1)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071298)

Glad you're working on it. But I can't agree Google is doing so good. One of my customers is a bunch of librarians, and they see a lot of people seeking advice on how to find information. The information is out there, but it is so hard getting the keywords right that people can't actually do it. So, they turn to skilled information gatherers, i.e. librarians, who, supported by people with extensive domain knowledge, can point them the right way. This has shown us that pure text search is overrated, people don't really know what they're missing. The search is only the starting point, from there it is faceted navigation with reasoning support that's the way to go! :-)

Re:Semantic Web Quite Important (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071546)

I usually just type my question into google "How do I wire the radio in a Toyota Corolla?"
I get pretty good results that way, because someone has probably already asked that question on some forum and been answered.

Re:Semantic Web Quite Important (1)

Khalid (31037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22074016)

Amen to that ! this is exactly how I do it now, directing my search towards discussion forums. Before that I used to use the defunct Dejanews sigh ! and then for a short time Google Groups, and got the best technical answers ever ! before Spam, people desaffection from Usenet and Google has rendered totally useless, re-sigh ! what a loss !

Re:Semantic Web Quite Important (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072426)

You make a great point. I get great results with Google but I do know others who can't seem to find a damned thing.

Re:Semantic Web Quite Important (1)

coolGuyZak (844482) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072990)

I blame search engine optimization. More and more, I get links to marketing drivel while trying to find real, useful information.

Re:Semantic Web Quite Important (1)

ddoctor (977173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072236)

The Semantic web IS important to the casual user. Social networking, blogs, RSS etc are about the most developed semantic web systems in practise.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22070894)

I think Berners-Lee just shot his load.

No, that would be the semen-tic web... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22071508)

... not the semantic web

siggh... (1)

msh104 (620136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22070970)

Yet another web markup thingy i have to learn..

Web development surely is a bitch.

Re:siggh... (1, Troll)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071336)

Dont worrie about it. In general, if the W3C made something, it, by definition, will suck, even if its fully implemented by a bunch of vendors. So what you do is wait for the development tools that abstract it, and use that instead.

W3C: Making over-engineered pieces of trash in an attempt to handle every single darn scenario in existance (instead of using the right tools for the right job) since 19...well, since ever.

Re:siggh... (1)

jlowery (47102) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071686)

>Dont worrie about it. In general, if the W3C made something, it, by definition, will suck, even if its fully implemented by a bunch of vendors

Which means all these open standards are nothing more than data interchange formats for third-party commercial tools. In order to use the standard, you have to buy a tool. Once again, open != free.

Graph : the worst word in computer science (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071222)

I read the FAC, and once again we are reminded that graph theory, so fundamental to computer science, is not about making charts. But man, its a terrible word, because, one does want to think about graph as in graphic, when its really about the data. I think instead of graphs, we should call them something different, like:

schmoo
zenny
budka
dango
chumpy

or something. anything but graph.

"dango" taken (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072860)

Alas, "dango [youtube.com] " is already taken. Calling them "meshes" or "networks" seems reasonable to me, though I suppose current usage is already well established.

SPARQL (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071424)

Am I the only person who looked at that name 'SPARQL' and went 'Is that Sun's new name for MySQL [slashdot.org] ?'

Re:SPARQL (1)

Yusaku Godai (546058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072114)

Actually, no. That was my first thought too +__+

And until now I was also in the "huh, I thought 'semantic web' was little more than a buzzword a some markup no one pays attention too. Didn't think it were possible to make any use of" camp.

Re:SPARQL (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22077886)

No, my first thought was, no male developers are going to use a tech pronouced "sparkle", since it sounds so fruity. And no female developers are going to use it either, for fear that the boys wouldn't take them seriously. Honestly, WTF is up with the name -- it's so... OMG, Ponies!

Re:SPARQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22078058)

You are not alone.

crapola (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22071550)

relations out there that are query-able

Gee, if only there was a general theory of data management that would allow us query RELATIONS. Wouldn't it be nice if this theory was complete, could handle any data management task, and had a closed algebra to build queries.

Too bad. I guess we'll have to wait until 1970 for someone to describe it. Until then, we can stick with more limited pointer-based data representations like trees and graphs, and relations that only have exactly three attributes. And everybody can create their own ad-hoc query languages and give them funny-sounding names. That would, like, totally rock.

I think I'll name mine FUQLBOLU - Fucked-Up Query Language Based On Limited Understanding

(That's pronounced FUKKEL-BOW-LOO, buddy.)

Re:crapola (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073236)

We could always wait until 1989 for a revision if we don't like the 1970's version....or wait until 1992 for someone to make it look more like English.....

Layne

actually (1)

Stu Charlton (1311) | more than 6 years ago | (#22077552)

I recall reading that Chris Date has indicated that RDF can be used as a foundation for relational theory (it's in "sixth normal form").... the major difference is that most RDF processors make an open-world assumption vs. most databases assuming a "closed world".

Why emphasize the semantic web? (5, Informative)

HappyEngineer (888000) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071592)

I suppose it's cool to emphasize the semantic web use of SPARQL. But, at its core SPARQL is a query language for RDF data stores. It takes some learning, but using SPARQL against an RDF data store feels much cleaner than using SQL against a relational database. It's slower though. Much slower. That's why it works best for small data sets.

My company stores the schema for our objects in RDF and use SPARQL to query against that schema. The actual data is saved to a relational database (our experiments with an all-RDF system concluded that it's just too slow for large data sets).

The RDF data stores can exist in arbitrary places (they don't need to be local), but I wonder how slow that would be to query.

Nevertheless, I encourage people to at least learn about this stuff. It's good for the same reason that learning about Ruby and Python is a good thing even if you only ever program in Java or C++. RDF and SPARQL make you start thinking about inferences and ways of storing data which allow you to derive more information from your information. When I first learned about RDF I had the same type of aha moments that I had when I first learned a dynamic language (FWIW, it was TADS3) after years of using static languages.

Re:Why emphasize the semantic web? (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072222)

That's why it works best for small data sets

It'll work great for the Semantic Web, then, which is only supposed to organize all the data in the world...

Personally, I don't see why they don't just stick trees in relational databases. I was doing this in 1996 or thereabouts, and with the right schema it is fast and efficient.

Re:Why emphasize the semantic web? (1)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073564)

Personally, I don't see why they don't just stick trees in relational databases.

Mainly because trees are very bad at describing many real world things. If you want trees, use XML and XQuery, but it won't get you very far, IMHO.

RDF is a graph model, much more powerful, and something that can truly scale.

Re:Why emphasize the semantic web? (1)

Ankh (19084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082620)

You're aware, I hope, that you can represent RDF (or any other graph model) in XML, making utter nonsense of your claim?

I do agree that trees don't work well in relational databases though :-)

Re:Why emphasize the semantic web? (1)

FraudulentTom (1010155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072968)

To say that data stored in RDF is "slower" blanketly is a bit too broad. Many implementations try to jam RDF data into a relational database, and that is indeed quite slow. There are other implementations (See AllegroGraph, OWL-IM) that are plenty speedy for your RDF needs.

Re:Why emphasize the semantic web? (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073964)

Code is slow, ideas are not.

It is possible to make it fast - but this will not happen overnight.

Re:Why emphasize the semantic web? (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081946)

Nevertheless, I encourage people to at least learn about this stuff. It's good for the same reason that learning about Ruby and Python is a good thing even if you only ever program in Java or C++.

And why, exactly is that? So that I can stuff yet one more computer language that I'm never going to use into a head that's already so full of trivial, useless information that something has to fall out (usually something occasionally useful, like French or a couple of notes in the pentatonic minor scale) for me to squish something else in?

Does it SPARQL?? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071636)

SUNSHINE!

Help the dim (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071932)

Free mod points to anyone who can give me the "So What" summary. The summary is useless and the linked articles failed to inform. Usually this just mans a circle jerk, but who know, there might be something useful or important in there.

... but you've already posted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22072672)

Except you've already posted in this thread. Good luck modding me up.

Re:... but you've already posted. (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22077182)

Did I say my mod points?

This article has been live for something like 10 hours and there are a total 2 posts (by my settings) that have a "5" rating. That's proof enough right there that this is a waste of everyone's time. If it was smart there would be supporting posts, if it was stupid there would be Funny or Insightful digs.

Instead what we have is obviously some garbage that no one can talk about intelligently or even gives a shit about.

Sorry for wasting your time, AC, I was hoping otherwise.

This would take off if used with RSS, etc. (1)

schweini (607711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22071978)

I think the semantic web would be incredible, once it is widely implemented by content providers - a great example is dbpedia's query
"Soccer player with tricot number 11 from club with stadium with >40000 seats born in a country with more than 10M inhabitants [aksw.org] "
but, as far as i can see, it's just too tedious to implement. There should be something in between full-fledged semantics, and stuff like RSS which expose information in a rather un-semantic way.
I just ran in to a problem trying to unify various "Event" feeds using RSS from various websites in a central calendar. Very stupid work, since it just feels wrong writing various parsers for such simple information like "date, subject, text". And if people can't even get around to use readily available standards for stuff like this, how will they ever implement the semantic web?

My 'solution' would be a gigantic awareness-campaign on how cool it would be vor everybody involved to use some kind of standard (even something like microformats)....

Re:This would take off if used with RSS, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22072252)

What the fuck is 'soccer'?

Re:This would take off if used with RSS, etc. (1)

CaptSolo (899152) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072872)

Schweini: agreed re. the need for awareness-campaign.

And often an average web citizen may ask: "so what's in there for me?". If you can play with SPARQL queries yourself, on some data that are of interest to you, that would be another thing entirely.

As for getting interesting data to work on, you can use some of SIOC export plugins [w3.org] for WordPress and other blog/forum engines. Then collect data (that will require some crawling of data pages) and run queries over your own content. This data would be richer than simple web feeds and yet simple enough to be fun to work with.

One thing which is maybe overlooked is that SPARQL can query a web of data coming from different sources. An advanced SPARQL query could very well combine data from your blog, DBPedia and also from your existing RDBMSs / info systems exposed to SPARQL queries [w3.org] .

What If You Build It And Nobody Comes? (2, Insightful)

littlewink (996298) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072080)

Guess we'll finally find out now. The Semantic Web remains Tim Berners-Lee's vanity project: well-intended but poorly thought out and unfortunately unwanted.

Anyone else feel the high glaze factor kicking in? (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072266)

Three tidbits up front: I am very very good at most flavors of SQL, good with XML, but only fair on reading W3C standards documents. Which means that I stand a fair-to-middling chance of understanding what in the heck they are trying to say with "SPARQL"

And after reading the standard, most of the articles, and looking at a couple of implementations, not only have I hit arbitrary but fairly high limits on what I will put up with before my eyes glaze over, I've also hit the 'don't give a s--- limitation as well.


One of their projects [w3.org] reports having indexed and interlinked "over two billion RDF triples, which are interlinked by around 3 million RDF links (October 2007)". Well frabulous. And so what??? Even looking at their graphic for all of the different databits that they have linked in, I don't find myself all that interested for a simple reason: to use the information with any kind of speed, I still have to take the data I can acquire and convert it into something that I can structure into a high speed high power database locally.

Which means secondarily that really what I want more is for other smart people to take the interlinked documents and the associated data and mine it and put it out in some location where I can use the data en-masse and at high speed for my own purposes. Not to learn yet another SQL variant that on it's best day will still be dog-slow.


I guess what I am saying is that -- while I understand the goals and purposes of the semantic web and the tools including SPARQL that are being developed for it-- I don't know when or even if the glaze factor will ever be low enough to capture my interest enough vs. looking for or maybe even buying the data that someone else has aggregated from the Semantic web. Thoughts?

Performance issues (1)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073676)

Yeah, performance issues has been a big problem, and it has driven many early adopters away from it. I've had some really bad performance problems myself. However, academics generally agree that it is because most of the implementation and tuning experience people have are with relational databases, the graph model of RDF are not among the hard problems to solve, everything is pretty much known, it is just getting the theory into running code, and performance will be as good as with relational databases.

Oracle, Franz [franz.com] and OpenLink [openlinksw.com] (the latter having a free software version), are about to show that in practice. I think we're getting there.

And people have been doing really large databases with great performance on in-house applications. I haven't seen them live, but I have read their papers.

So, it is an important point that you raise, but I think it has a solution in near future too.

Worst acronym ever! (1, Interesting)

el_chupanegre (1052384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072476)

SPARQL is both a recursive acronym and contains other acronyms! SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language.

I vote this worst acronym ever!

Re:Worst acronym ever! (1)

J1 (98359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078136)

Actually it is not recursive. The S stands for Simple.

Which, I guess, is kinda hard to believe if you're not into this stuff.

Re:Worst acronym ever! (1)

el_chupanegre (1052384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082546)

Not according to my Semantic Web professor and the W3C Recommendation [w3.org] :

The SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language (SPARQL) is a query language and protocol for RDF

links from Kingsley Idehen (1)

epine (68316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072594)

I see OpenLink Software credited at DBpedia as a shadowy participant from the corporate sector.

http://www.openlinksw.com/index.htm [openlinksw.com]

The guy mentioned turns out to be the founder and CEO, and he keeps a personal blog space with a lot of stuff about SPARQL, but man, protect your eyeballs from the vision gouging link clutter. Has all the visual appeal of a rental car insurance application form.

http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen/ [openlinksw.com]

Even includes a link to the Zitgist data viewer. Amazingly, that domain was still available.

http://www.zitgist.com/ [zitgist.com]

Zitgist (pronounced "zeitgeist") is an industry standards compliant Semantic Web Query Service. Its goal is to help Web users locate data, information, and knowledge on the Web.
My god, hope springs eternal. The only occasion I'd pronounce "zit" as "zeit" is to rhyme it with "shite". Also, that's capital Web, pronounced "veeb".

Re:links from Kingsley Idehen (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073310)

Man, that site is almost as bad as those stupid adver-tags that people have.....if it had the floating windows to go with it, it would be as bad.

Layne

Re:links from Kingsley Idehen (1)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073410)

There's not much shadowy about Kingsley. He is a very nice guy who does a lot of good things. He is very visible and very active in the community, also on IRC.

Re:links from Kingsley Idehen (1)

epine (68316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073678)

I only used the word "shadowy" because it took some digging from the DBpedia page where his company is mentioned to discover who he was, and I hadn't found a "who we are" page at DBpedia, and I still don't know exactly what Kingsley's company brings/brought to the table over at DBpedia, aside from being generally all over the SPARQL technology. Actually, he looks like a pretty energetic and enthusiastic guy, once you get past those eye-jabbing cyclopropane moieties on his blog.

SPARQL parser (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072714)

Looks like there's a SPARQL grammar [aduna-software.org] from which JavaCC can generate a parser (and, since it's a JJTree grammar, an abstract syntax tree). Nice to have that piece of work available and BSD licensed....

Why Semantic Web? Why yet another thing to learn? (1)

semanticsearch (1157807) | more than 6 years ago | (#22072770)

After working in Semantic Web technologies for the last few years, and trying to integrate them into the current web, I can verify there's a lot of reasons people valid reasons people are skeptical.

1. True, RDF stores tend to be slow. Triple/RDF stores are sometimes built on top of SQL databases, and (for example) the database has to do a million inner joins per query. Column stores, other native graph stores offer some hope to this problem.
2. True, SPARQL isn't that hard to learn, and it's simpler than expressing the same kind of query in SQL.
3. True, SQL will be around for quite a while. Tables and RDBMSs are well understood and sufficient for many kinds of data which can be structured. Genetic data, NLP and other more atomic data needs a more generalized storage/query structure.

But the W3C is doing a work by preempting the problems that come without standardizing. (Looking at Iraq, pre-emptive strategies aren't always the best.) It's hard now because no one like Apple, or Sun is throwing huge dollars at the standard. But you HP has done a lot of work with Jena. There's OpenRDF, and YARS from DERI Ireland. There's ARC2 which runs in PHP and is easy to work with.

Yes, ANOTHER technology. But my job isn't just making web pages for money. The vision is to bring information to people and improve the stability and standard of life. Technology like this is already used by those with a lot of resources - so it's important to have some level of knowledge like this "for the people". (And no, SPARQL is not communist.... I think.)

I can 'think OWL' easier than 'think RDF' (1)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22073980)

I have experimented with RDF for many years (best toolkit for experimenting, I think, is the Swi-prolog semantic web library: http://www.swi-prolog.org/packages/semweb.html [swi-prolog.org] ).

I much prefer the higher level OWL representation with descriptive logic, but the problem is that support for lower level RDF is much better. There are commercial and open source OWL+descriptive logic reasoner packages, but there is much better coverage for RDF tools. In any case, with the exception of the expensive (commercial) Lisp based AllegroGraph and RacerPro tools, and the open source Swi-prolog semantic web library, almost all of the tools I have tried (Sesame, Jena, Pellet, etc.) are written in Java. Fortunately, most of the Java tools are open source, so playing/experimenting only costs your time :-)

Wonderful! (2, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22075662)

But, you know someone out there is thinking to themselves: "How can I use this new technology to spam people."

Just like everything else, somehow someone is going to try to shove their advertising down it.

xml like xslt? (1)

CaptnMArk (9003) | more than 6 years ago | (#22077488)

Too bad it's not XML. I really like to generate/modify my XSLT scripts using XSLT.

Re:xml like xslt? (1)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078252)

Well, the reason it is not XML is that XML is a tree model, which is usually a poor representation of the real world. RDF is a graph model. That said, you can use XSLT on RDF/XML, which is one serialisation of RDF. We're doing it, but it is something of a PITA. I think XSLT is easy enough to adapt, what I think we will be looking into for the future is to work on an XPath replacement to navigate a subtree of the graph called a concise bounded description. If we get somewhere with that, it may be a candidate for standardisation.

Re:xml like xslt? (1)

gedhrel (241953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078838)

Have you seen the work Damian Steer put together: a tree provider for xpath that uses RDF graphs? This is a few years old now but permitted xslt, xquery, etc, against RDF sources.

xquery anybody? (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22078918)

Perhaps I'm being naive, but can't you use xquery for this? I was thinking the other yesterday after the Sun/mySQL annoucement that if I had to pick something today likely to follow the same trajectory as Monty's little project that it would be eXist-db, or some other NXD.

SPARQL promotional video!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22078978)

You must have seen the SPARQL promotional video [myspace.com] !

I, for one, shall kneel before our great querying overlords.

This is Madness! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22080452)

THIS
IS
SPARQL!!!
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