The ultimate goal of semantic technology is to help machines understand data. To enable the encoding of semantics with the data, well-known technologies are RDF (Resource Description Framework) and OWL (Web Ontology Language). These technologies formally represent the meaning involved in information. For example, ontology can describe concepts, relationships between things, and categories of things. These embedded semantics with the data offer significant advantages such as reasoning over data and dealing with heterogeneous data sources.
In software, semantic technology encodes meanings separately from data and content files, and separately from application code. This enables machines as well as people to understand, share and reason with them at execution time. With semantic technologies, adding, changing and implementing new relationships or interconnecting programs in a different way can be just as simple as changing the external model that these programs share.
With traditional information technology, on the other hand, meanings and relationships must be predefined and "hard wired" into data formats and the application program code at design time. This means that when something changes, previously unexchanged information needs to be exchanged, or two programs need to interoperate in a new way, the humans must get involved.
Off-line, the parties must define and communicate between them the knowledge needed to make the change, and then recode the data structures and program logic to accommodate it, and then apply these changes to the database and the application. Then, and only then, can they implement the changes.
Semantic technologies are "meaning-centered". They include subjects but not limited to:
- encode/decode of semantic representation,
- knowledge graph embedding relationships,
- auto-recognition of topics and concepts,
- information and meaning extraction, and
Given a question, semantic technologies can directly search topics, concepts, associations that span a vast number of sources.
Semantic technologies provide an abstraction layer above existing IT technologies that enables bridging and interconnection of data, content, and processes. Second, from the portal perspective, semantic technologies can be thought of as a new level of depth that provides far more intelligent, capable, relevant, and responsive interaction than with information technologies alone.
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