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Database Seminar: Semantic Integration in the Context Interchange Project and Relationship to the Semantic Web

Wednesday 30 April 2008 at 12:10, Seminar Room AT 6.01.
Speaker: Stuart Madnick, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Many online services access a large number of autonomous data sources and at
the same time need to meet different user requirements. It is essential for
these services to achieve semantic interoperability and integration among
these information exchange entities. A serious problem is the existence of
heterogeneous contexts, whereby each SOURCE of information and potential
RECEIVER of that information may operate with a different context, leading
to large-scale semantic heterogeneity. A context is the collection of
implicit assumptions about the context definition (i.e., meaning) and
context characteristics (i.e., quality) of the information. As a simple
example, whereas most US universities grade on a 4.0 scale, MIT uses a 5.0
scale - posing a problem if one is comparing student grades. Another
typical example is extraction of price information from the Web: but is the
price in Dollars or Euros (If dollars, is it US dollars or Hong Kong
dollars), does it include taxes, does it include shipping, etc. - and does
that match the receiver's assumptions?

In this talk, examples of important context challenges will be presented and
the critical role of metadata, in the form of context knowledge, will be
discussed. The Context Interchange (COIN) approach, inspired by similar
goals of the Semantic Web, provides a robust solution. COIN is much more
flexible and scalable compared with conventional approaches.

With a given ontology, the number of conversions in COIN is quadratic to the
semantic aspect that has the largest number of distinctions. These semantic
aspects are modeled as modifiers in a conceptual ontology; in most cases the
number of conversions is linear with the number of modifiers, which is
significantly smaller than traditional hard-wiring middleware approach where
the number of conversion programs is quadratic to the number of sources and
data receivers. In an example scenario, the COIN approach needs only 5
component conversions to be defined while traditional approaches could
require over 100,000 conversion programs. COIN achieves this scalability by
automatically composing all the comprehensive conversions from a small
number of declaratively defined component conversions.

Biography of Speaker
Professor Stuart Madnick has been a faculty member at M.I.T. since 1972. He
has served as the head of MIT's Information Technologies Group for more than
twenty years. During that time the group has been consistently rated #1 in
the nation among business school information technology programs (U.S. News
& World Reports, BusinessWeek, and ComputerWorld). He has also been an
affiliate member of MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science, a member of the
research advisory committee of the International Financial Services Research
Center, and a member of the executive committee of the Center for
Information Systems Research.

Dr. Madnick is a prolific writer and is the author or co-author of over 250
books, articles, or reports including the classic textbook, Operating
Systems (McGraw-Hill), and the book, The Dynamics of Software Development
(Prentice-Hall). He has also contributed chapters to other books, such as
Information Technology in Action (Prentice-Hall).
His current research interests include connectivity among disparate
distributed information systems, database technology, software project
management, and the strategic use of information technology. He is presently
co-Director of the PROductivity From Information Technology (PROFIT)
Initiative and co-Heads the Total Data Quality Management (TDQM) research

He has been the Principal Investigator of a large-scale DARPA-funded
research effort on Context Interchange which involves the development of
technology that helps organizations to work more cooperatively, coordinated,
and collaboratively. As part of this effort, he is the co-inventor on the
patents "Querying Heterogeneous Data Sources over a Network Using Context
Interchange" and "Data Extraction from World Wide Web Pages."
He has been active in industry, making significant contributions as a key
designer and developer of projects such as IBM's VM/370 operating system and
Lockheed's DIALOG information retrieval system. He has served as a
consultant to many major corporations, such as IBM, AT&T, and Citicorp. He
has also been the founder or co-founder of several high-tech firms,
including Intercomp (acquired by Logicon), Mitrol (acquired by General
Electric's Information Systems Company), Cambridge Institute for Information
Systems (subsequently re-named Cambridge Technology Group), iAggregate
(acquired by ArsDigita which was subsequently acquired by Red Hat), and
currently operates a hotel in the 14th century Langley Castle in England.
Dr. Madnick has degrees in Electrical Engineering (B.S. and M.S.),
Management (M.S.), and Computer Science (Ph.D.) from MIT. He has been a
Visiting Professor at Harvard University, Nanyang Technological University
(Singapore), University of Newcastle (England), Technion (Israel), and
Victoria University (New Zealand).

Seminar Room Appleton Tower 6.01
30 Apr 2008