UMBC ebiquity
2008 November

Archive for November, 2008

JWS special issue on The Web of Data

November 11th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in Semantic Web

Axel Polleres and David Huynh are editing a special issue of the Journal of Web Semantics on The Web of Data that will appear in the Summer 2009. Submitted papers are due by January 21, 2009. See the special issue call for papers for details.

Journal of Web Semantics blog 2.0

November 11th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in Semantic Web

We’ve moved the Journal of Web Semantics blog from a self-hosted WordPress installation to Google-hosted blogger. We’ve moved the old posts (manually!) and the recommended public feed remains the same: jwsBlog.

Our move was motivated by a desire to make it easier for more people to contribute to the blog, a need to streamline the maintenance of the JWS infrastructure, and a goal to make the tools we use independent of the institutions of the current editors-in-chief.

When we started the ebiquity blog back in 2003 it was on blogger. After some months we moved to a self-hosted WordPress blog, which we continue to enjoy using for its flexibility, powerful features, and active community of developers and users.

I found it interesting to come back to blogger for the new JWS blog and to see what’s new and what has remained the same.

CloudCamp DC, 3-9pm Wed 12 Nov, Chantilly VA (free)

November 10th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in High performance computing, Multicore Computation Center

There will a free CloudCamp ‘unconference’ in Chantilly VA (outside DC) from 3pm to 9pm on Wednesday 12 November.

“CloudCamp is an unconference where early adapters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged you to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing. End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to participate.”

Briggs on Constraint Generation and Reasoning in OWL, Noon Mon 17 Nov @ UMBC

November 10th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in OWL, RDF, Semantic Web, UMBC

Tom Briggs will defend his dissertation, Constraint Generation and Reasoning in OWL, at Noon on Monday 17 November 2008 in ITE 325b. His work has focused on automatically computing reasonable domain and range constraints for Semantic Web properties. Here’s the abstract:

The majority of OWL ontologies in the emerging Semantic Web are constructed from properties that lack domain and range constraints. Constraints in OWL are different from the familiar uses in programming languages and databases, and are actually type assertions that are made about the individuals which are connected by the property. These assertions can add vital information to the model because they are assertions of type on the individuals involved, and they can also give information on how the defining property may be used.
    Three different automated generation techniques are explored in this research: disjunction, least-common named subsumer, and vivification. Each algorithm is compared for the ability to generalize, and the performance impacts with respect to the reasoner. A large sample of ontologies from the Swoogle repository are used to compare real-world performance of these techniques.
    Finally, using generated facts, a type of default reasoning, may conflict with future assertions to the knowledge base. While general default reasoning is non-monotonic and undecidable a novel approach is introduced to support efficient retraction of the default knowledge. Combined, these techniques enable a robust and efficient generation of domain and range constraints which will result in inference of additional facts and improved performance for a number of Semantic Web applications.

Tom’s dissertation advisor is Professor Yun Peng.

Has the Blogosphere been co-opted

November 8th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in GENERAL

Nick Carr asks Who killed the blogosphere? on his blog.

“Blogging seems to have entered its midlife crisis, with much existential gnashing-of-teeth about the state and fate of a literary form that once seemed new and fresh and now seems familiar and tired. And there’s good reason for the teeth-gnashing. While there continue to be many blogs, including a lot of very good ones, it seems to me that one would be hard pressed to make the case that there’s still a “blogosphere.” That vast, free-wheeling, and surprisingly intimate forum where individual writers shared their observations, thoughts, and arguments outside the bounds of the traditional media is gone. Almost all of the popular blogs today are commercial ventures with teams of writers, aggressive ad-sales operations, bloated sites, and strategies of self-linking. Some are good, some are boring, but to argue that they’re part of a “blogosphere” that is distinguishable from the “mainstream media” seems more and more like an act of nostalgia, if not self-delusion.”

Carr is something of a technology contrarian and has written a book Does IT Matter? and a recent article in the Atlantic Is Google Making Us Stupid?.

In his post, he compares blogging to the amateur ratio during of 100 years ago and predicts that its demise foreshadows the Blogosphere’s.

” When “the wireless” was introduced to America around 1900, it set off a surge in amateur broadcasting, as hundreds of thousands of people took to the airwaves. … The amateur broadcasters, the historian Susan J. Douglas has written, “claimed to be surrogates for ‘the people.'” The democratic “radiosphere,” as we might have called it today, “held a special place in the American imagination precisely because it married idealism and adventure with science.”
    But it didn’t last. Radio so on came to be dominated by a relatively small number of media companies, with the most popular amateur operators being hired on as radio personalities. Social production was absorbed into corporate production. By the 1920s, radio had become “firmly embedded in a corporate grid,” writes Douglas. … Thus, through radio, Americans would not transcend the present or circumvent corporate networks. In fact they would be more closely tied to both.”
    That’s not to say that the amateur radio operators didn’t change the mainstream media. They did. And so, too, have bloggers. Allowing readers to post comments on stories has now, thanks to blogging, become commonplace throughout online publishing. But the once popular idea that blogs would prove to be an alternative to, or even a devastating attack on, corporate media has proven naive.

I like the analogy, but it does have limitation. The popular blogs that arose out of nowhere he romanticizes about were always just a small part of the Blogosphere. Just focusing on the nature of the Blogosphere’s head — the top 100 blogs or even the top 5000 blogs — and ignoring the long tail misses a lot.

Some Germans think Google knows too much

November 7th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in Google, Privacy

According to an article in Der Spiegel, Does Google Know Too Much?, many in Germany are concerned with Google’s broad range of information gathering.

Google gathers so much detailed information about its users that one critic says some state intelligence bureaus look “like child protection services” in comparison. A few German government bodies have mounted a resistance.

I liked the accompanying graphic that shows Google’s many services.

Thilo Weichert, head of Schleswig-Holstein’s Independent State Agency for
Data Protection, has issued a public warning about Google Analytics, the
system that many web site owners use to collect aggregate information about
their visitors.

“Most users of the product aren’t entirely aware that by operating Google
Analytics they’re utilizing a service that transfers data to the United
States, to be broadly used and exploited,” he has written. “This violates
the data privacy laws protecting those who use the Web sites.” Google
reacted with a letter to the governor of Schleswig-Holstein, warning of
economic losses and demanding that Weichert be called off his attack.

Such reactions only incite Weichert. “The company operates in an
unacceptably non-transparent manner,” he says. “Their users are basically
standing naked in front of them, and Google itself discloses only what is
absolutely necessary assure.”

CFP: IEEE Intelligence and Security Informatics

November 7th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in Security

The ISI 2009 call for papers is out with deadlines of 20 January 2009 for papers and 20 February for tutorials or workshops proposals.

Intelligence and Security Informatics (ISI) has been established as an interdisciplinary subject that focuses on the development and use of advanced information technologies, including methodologies, models and algorithms, infrastructure, systems, and tools, for local, national/international, and global security related applications through an integrated technological, organizational, behavioral, and policy based approach.

This year’s conference will be held in Richardson, Texas (in the Dallas Area), 8-11 June 2009. The annual IEEE ISI series was started in 2003, and the first five meetings were held in Tucson (twice), Atlanta, San Diego, New Brunswick, respectively, in the United States. The sixth (2008) meeting was held in Taipei with significant international participation. Several regional ISI conferences/workshops have also been held in Pacific Asia and Europe in recent years. These ISI conferences and workshops have brought together academic researchers, law enforcement and intelligence experts, information technology consultants and practitioners to discuss research and practice related to various ISI topics. The themes of the 2009 IEEE ISI conference will cover context-aware data analysis, effective counterterrorism, and public education on cybercrime detection.

The Google does a UMBC drive by

November 7th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in Google, UMBC, Web, Web 2.0

Google Maps has added street views of the greater Baltimore area. One thing I had never noticed before (I think it is new) is that if you click on the STREET VIEW button, the roads from which street view is available are marked in blue. This makes it easy to zoom out and get a sense of the coverage. See for example the street view coverage of the

    You can see that the Google just did a quick drive-by of UMBC.

    I also noticed that you can expand the street view to “full screen” and drive around interesting areas, like nearby main street in old ellicott city.

2008 Int. Semantic Web Conf. Awards (ISWC 2008)

November 7th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in GENERAL

Here is a list of the awards made to papers, posters and demonstration and semantic web challenge entries for the Seventh International Semantic Web Conference.

Cash prizes were generously provided by Elsevier, publisher of the Journal of Web Semantics, and the Semantic Web Science Association (SWSA), the sponsor of the ISWC series of conferences.

Research track

ISWC 2008 research track included 43 papers selected from the 261 submissions. A panel of judges selected a short list of three papers and attended the presentation of each one.

The Best Research Paper award and a prize of 1000 € provided by Elsevier was given to:

The other two best paper nominees were given honorable mention awards:

In Use track

ISWC 2008 included fourteen papers in the Semantic Web In Use track. SWSA provided a 500 € prize for the best paper in this track, which was given to

Two papers in the In Use track were recognized with honorable mention awards:

Semantic Web Challenge

This year the Semantic Web Challenge had two tracks with different criteria: the Open Track and the Billion Triples Track. After an initial review, thirteen submissions were accepted and evaluated for the Open track and nine for the Billion triples track. A panel of eleven experts judged the submissions in two rounds. In the first, five finalists were selected based on their submitted descriptions and a poster and demonstration on Tuesday evening. The panel then ranked the finalists based on a presentation the next day.

Elsevier provided three generous cash prizes for each track: 1000 € for first place, 500 € for second and 250 € for third place.

Semantic Web Challenge Open Track

The winners of the Semantic Web Challenge Open track were

  • First place: paggr by Benjamin Nowack (Semsol)
  • Second place: DBpedia Mobile by Christian Becker, Christian Bizer (Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Third place: HealthFinland by Osma Suominen, Eero Hyvönen, Kim Viljanen, (Helsinki University of Technology and University of Helsinki) and Eija Hukka (National Public Health Institute)

The judges also noted three other applications:

  • IYOUIT by DOCOMO Euro-Labs, Telematica Instituut
  • xOperator by the University of Leipzig

Semantic Web Challenge Billion Triples Track

The winners of the 2008 Semantic Web Challenge Billion Triples Track were:

  • First place: SemaPlorer by Simon Schenk, Carsten Saatho, Anton Baumesberger, Frederik Jochum, Alexander Kleinen, Steen Staab, and Ansgar Scherp (University of Koblenz-Landau)
  • Second place: SearchWebDB by Haofen Wang, Thomas Penin, Qiaoling Liu, Linyun Fu, and Yong Yu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), Thanh Tran, Peter Haase (University of Karlsruhe)
  • Third place: MaRVIN by George Anadiotis, Spyros Kotoulas, Eyal Oren, Ronny Siebes, Frank van Harmelen, Niels Drost, Roelof Kemp, Jason Maassen, Frank J. Seinstra, and Henri E. Bal (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)

The judges also noted three other applications:

  • Runner up: i-MoCo by the University of Zurich
  • Runner up: SAOR by DERI, NUI Galway
  • Honorable mention: Virtuoso by OpenLink Software

Doctoral Consortium

SWSA provided a 100 € prize for the best paper in the ISWC doctoral consortium which was given to

Honorable mention awards for Doctoral Consortium papers were given to

Posters and Demonstrations

ISWC 2008 accepted 54 posters and 31 demonstrations which were presented on Tuesday evening during which conference participants voted for the best overall and best student poster and demonstration and best. SWSA provided a cash prize of 350 € for these awards

The best poster award was won by

  • Sebastian Boehm, Johan Koolwaaij, Marko Luther, Bertrand Souville, Matthias Wagner, Martin Wibbels (DOCOMO Communications Laboratories Europe) for their poster IYOUIT – Share, Life, Blog, Play.

Honorable mention awards for posters and demonstrations were given to

The best student poster and demonstration award was given to

Honorable mention awards for best student poster or demonstration were given to

Nabil Adam on Emergency Management Research Challenges, 10am Tue Nov 11 @ UMBC

November 7th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in GENERAL

Professor Nabil Adam will talk next week on Emergency Management: Some Related Research Challenges. The talk is part of the UMBC Information System’s Distinguished Information Technology Lecture and will be given at 10:00am on Tuesday, November 11 in room 456 of the Information Technology and Engineering building. A reception for Dr. Adam will be held at 3:00pm in ITE459.

Dr. Adam will begin with an overview of the Infrastructure & Geophysical Division at the Science & Technology Directorate of the US Department of Homeland Security. He will continue then with a discussion of the ongoing research projects at the Rutgers University research center CIMIC (Center for Information Management, Integration and Connectivity). These projects focus on Emergency Management in the area of Homeland Security with the common research theme: secure, context sensitive, semantics aware and privacy preserving information sharing, integration, and analysis. Detailed discussion of some related specific research challenges as well as proposed approaches will be presented.

For more information see the Information Systems Department announcement.

The Python Challenge

November 6th, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in Programming

Python Challenge A student in my programming languages class pointed me to the Python Challenge site. It looks like a great way for someone new to Python to test her skills and learn new ones.

It’s a riddle site in the style of notpron, but one where solving each riddle requires a little bit of Python programming. The solutions are entered by changing the URL of the current page to take you to the next riddle page. The problems are “designed to be solvable by Python newcomers and yet challenging even for Python experts.”

This type of site could be a good educational tool for many subjects.

Grasso on Automatic Summarization of Laparoscopic Video

November 3rd, 2008, by Tim Finin, posted in GENERAL

In this week’s ebiquity meeting, Dr. Michael Grasso will talk about his research on automatic segmentation and summarization of videos from laparoscopic surgery.

Automatic Summarization of Laparoscopic Video
Dr. Michael Grasso, UMBC
10:30am Tue 3 Nov 2008, ITE 346

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive technique with unique training requirements. Video-assisted evaluation is one method that surgical residents can use to demonstrate competence. Automated video summarization can increase the efficiency of evaluations by directing the senior surgeon to key portions of a surgical procedure. We are using image classification techniques to segment videos of laparoscopic cholecystectomies to assist with surgical training and evaluation.

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