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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J014354/1
Title: WhatIf: Answering "What if..." questions for Ontology Authoring
Principal Investigator: Van Deemter, Professor K
Other Investigators:
Pan, Dr JZ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Computing Science
Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 17 September 2012 Ends: 30 June 2016 Value (£): 542,078
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Comput./Corpus Linguistics
Human-Computer Interactions Information & Knowledge Mgmt
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Feb 2012 EPSRC ICT Responsive Mode - Feb 2012 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
We have a richness of data about numerous aspects of our activities, yet these

data are only any use when we know what they are, agree upon what they are and

how they relate to each other. Semantic descriptions of data, the means by

which we can achieve these aims, are widely used to help exploit data in

industry, academia and at home. One way of providing such meaning or semantics

for data is through "ontologies", yet these ontologies can be hard to build,

especially for the very people that are expert in the fields whose knowledge

is being captured but who are not experienced in the specialised "modelling" field.

In the "what if...?" project we look at

the problems of creating ontologies using the Web

Ontology Language (OWL). With OWL logical forms, computers can

deduce knowledge that is only

implied within the statements made by the modeller. So any statement made

by a modeller can have a dramatic effect on what is implied.

These implications can be both "good" and "bad" in terms of the aims of the

modeller. Consequently, a

modeller is always asking themself "what if...?" questions as they model a field

of interest. Such a question might be "what happens if I say that a planet

must be orbiting a star?" or "what happens if I add in this date/time


The aim of the "what if...?" project is to

build a dialogue system allowing a person building an ontology

to ask such questions and get

meaningful answers. This requires getting the computer to determine what

the consequences of a change in the ontology would be and getting it to

present these consequences in a meaningful way. To do a good job,

the system will have to understand something about what the person is trying

to do and what sorts of results will be most interesting to them. For this,

we need to understand more about

how ontologists model a domain and interact with tools; be able to model the

dialogues between a human and the authoring system; achieve responsive

auttomated reasoning that can provide the dialogue system with the information

it nees to create that dialogue.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.abdn.ac.uk