Ontology Engineering Spring 2016

Instructor: Professor Deborah McGuinness - dlm at cs dot rpi dot edu
Guest Lecturer: Ms. Elisa Kendall - ekendall at thematix dot com
Meeting times: Monday afternoon 1:00 pm - 3:50 pm.
Office Hours: By appt by skype or in person in Winslow 2104
phone: 518-276-4404
Class Listing: Ontologies
CSCI 6967 - 01, 98441, CSCI 4968 - 01, 95541

Class Location Winslow 1140
Description: This course provides an introduction to ontologies, their uses, and an overview of their application in semantically enabled systems. Ontologies encode term meanings. Ontologies with their declarative encodings of meaning can be used to improve communications between people and can enable computer programs to function more effectively. They provide the foundation for clear and unambiguous interaction. Ontologies have become increasingly common on the web, and class participants will not only learn about the use of ontologies in web-based applications but how to evaluate ontologies for reuse in such applications. Participants will read relevant papers, learn how to critically review ontology papers as well as ontologies themselves, and will participate in at least one group project designing, using, and evaluating ontologies.


To learn how to build computer understandable definitions of terms for usage in automated systems.


  • Learn what ontologies are, how to build them, and how to use them
  • Learn what use cases are, how to construct them, and how to use them to capture requirements for ontology and applications development
  • Learn about terminology work, including definition development, and how to use terminologies as the starting point for ontology development
  • Learn about ontology languages and some existing ontology resources
  • Learn how to design, implement, and evaluate an ontology project


  • Basic knowledge of XML is expected
  • Basic knowledge of Artificial Intelligence and the Web is expected

Assessment Criteria:

  • Via written assignments
  • Via oral (individual and group presentations)
  • Via participation in class
  • Via group evaluation
  • Late submission policy: first time with valid reason – no penalty, otherwise 20% of score deducted each late day

Academic Integrity:

Student-teacher relationships are built on trust. For example, students must trust that teachers have made appropriate decisions about the structure and content of the courses they teach, and teachers must trust that the assignments that students turn in are their own. Acts, which violate this trust, undermine the educational process. The Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities defines various forms of Academic Dishonesty and you should make yourself familiar with these. In this class, all assignments that are turned in for a grade must represent the student’s own work. In cases where help was received, or teamwork was allowed, a notation on the assignment should indicate your collaboration. Submission of any assignment that is in violation of this policy will result in a penalty.

If found in violation of the academic dishonesty policy, students may be subject to two types of penalties. The instructor administers an academic (grade) penalty, and the student may also enter the Institute judicial process and be subject to such additional sanctions as: warning, probation, suspension, expulsion, and alternative actions as defined in the current Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities. If you have any question concerning this policy before submitting an assignment, please ask for clarification.

Course Calendar

Refer to Reading / Assignment / Reference list for each week (see below). Note that the schedule and the reading list may evolve as the class progresses. Also some related class web pages from Tetherless World professors may be of use for additional readings from http://tw.rpi.edu/web/Courses

  • CLASS 1: Monday, January 25 - Introduction to Ontologies
  • CLASS 2: Monday, February 1 - Use Case Development and Elaboration
  • CLASS 3: Monday, February 8 - Evaluating Use Cases and Project Topic Discussion
  • NO CLASS on Presidents Day Feb 15
  • CLASS 4: Monday, February 22 - Terminology and Vocabulary Development
  • CLASS 5: Monday, February 29 - Conceptual Modeling and Domain Analysis
  • CLASS 6: Monday, March 7 - An Introduction to the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Web Ontology Language (OWL)
  • NO CLASS Spring Break March 14
  • CLASS 7: Monday, March 21 - An Introduction to Description Logics
  • CLASS 8: Monday, March 28 - Best Practices in Ontology Development, Using Tools to Check Your Ontology: Syntax, Semantics, and Regression Testing
  • CLASS 9: Monday April 4 - Provenance, References, and Evidence Collection
  • CLASS 10: Monday April 11 - Ontology Evaluation and Reuse
  • CLASS 11: Monday, April 18 - Ontology Evolution
  • CLASS 12: Monday, April 25 - Question Answering in SPARQL
  • CLASS 13: Monday, May 2 - Semantically-Enabled Applications -- Putting It All Together
  • CLASS 14: Monday, May 9 - Project Presentations (final exam week following week)

Course Syllabus

See the google docs page: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-0JZjUlRk6DZNUpqX4RQD6zsFYWNwvsMPmdb...

NOTICE: remember to check back as the schedule may change as the term progresses

Attendance Policy

Enrolled students may miss at most one class without permission of the instructor. Once one class has been missed (with or without permission) no additional classes may be missed without permission.

Course: Ontology Engineering

Date: to

Class Projects


Rui Yan - knowledge engineer, software engineer

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Matt Klawonn, MD Ridwan Al Iqbal, Spencer Norris


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Principal Investigators: Zev Battad


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