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Created: March 29, 2005.
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W3C Releases Survey of RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Proposals Working Draft.

An initial public working draft from the W3C RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Task Force (RDFTM) presents A Survey of RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Proposals. This specification, initiated by the W3C Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group (SWBPD) with the support of the ISO Topic Maps Committee (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34), is part of the W3C Semantic Web Activity.

The document "contains a survey of existing proposals for integrating RDF and Topic Maps data and is intended to be a starting point for establishing standard guidelines for RDF/Topic Maps interoperability."

The W3C Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a model developed by the W3C for representing information about resources in the World Wide Web. Topic Maps, a project of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34, is a standard for knowledge [representation and] integration, developed by ISO.

The primary goal of this W3C endeavor is to "achieve interoperability between RDF and Topic Maps at the data level. This means that it should be possible to translate data from one form to the other without unacceptable loss of information or corruption of the semantics. It should also be possible to query the results of a translation in terms of the target model and it should be possible to share vocabularies across the two paradigms."

According to the Background statement for the Working Draft, the RDF and Topic Maps specifications "were developed in parallel during the late 1990's within their separate organizations for what at first appeared to be very different purposes. The results, however, turned out to have a lot in common and this has led to calls for their unification."

While unification of RDF and Topic Maps has to date "not been possible, for a variety of technical and political reasons, a number of attempts have been made to uncover the synergies between RDF and Topic Maps and to find ways of achieving interoperability at the data level. There is now widespread recognition within the respective user communities that achieving such interoperability is a matter of some urgency. Work has therefore been initiated by the Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group of the W3C with the support of the ISO Topic Maps committee to address this issue."

This Working Draft "consists of a summary and analysis of the major existing proposals for achieving data interoperability between RDF and Topic Maps. RDF-Schema and OWL are considered relevant to this work to the extent that the classes and properties they define are supportive of its goals. However, it is explicity not a goal of the current work to enable the general use of RDF Schema and OWL with Topic Maps, although this issue may be addressed later."

The Working Draft "is aimed at readers with a particularly deep interest in the problem of RDF/Topic Maps interoperability and a willingness to acquire the necessary understanding of both paradigms. The reader is consequently expected to have a level of familiarity with both RDF and Topic Maps that at least corresponds to the tutorial material in The TAO of Topic Maps and RDF Primer. To fully understand this survey, the reader must in addition be familiar with the models described in ISO/IEC 13250: Topic Maps — Data Model and RDF Semantics, as well as the syntaxes described in The Linear Topic Map Notation: Definition and Introduction and Tim Berners-Lee's Notation 3.

Five (5) existing proposals for RDF-TopicMaps interoperability are covered in the survey. "They have been chosen as being sufficiently complete and well-documented to be suitable for detailed examination. They are also representative of the breadth of approaches that have been taken to date and can all be considered to be seminal in one way or another. They will be referred to by the names of their authors or, in the case of multiple authors, by the name of the organization to which the authors are affiliated. Each proposal builds upon and references previous work and they are characterized here in terms of the translation directions that they cover: i.e., RDF to Topic Maps (RDF2TM), and Topic Maps to RDF (TM2RDF), respectively."

Bibliographic Information

A Survey of RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Proposals. W3C Working Draft. March 29, 2005. Edited by Steve Pepper (Ontopia), Fabio Vitali (University of Bologna), Lars Marius Garshol (Ontopia), Nicola Gessa (University of Bologna), and Valentina Presutti (University of Bologna). Version URL: Latest version URL:

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