. . . Back to The SHOE Home Page
Version 1.0 of this document: http://www.cs.umd.edu/projects/plus/SHOE/spec1.0.html
Table Of Contents
This specification describes SHOE, an extension to HTML which provides a way to incorporate machine-readable semantic knowledge in HTML or other World-Wide Web documents. SHOE can also be used with XML documents, and this process is discussed in Appendix B. The rest of this specification describes:
The intent of this specification is to make it possible for user-agents, robots, etc., to gather truly meaningful information about web pages and documents, enabling significantly better search mechanisms and knowledge-gathering.
The general way one goes about this is as follows:
We're playing a bit fast-and-loose with the term ontology here. In this specification, "ontology" simply means an ISA hierarchy of classes/categories, plus a set of atomic relations between these categories, and a set of inferential rules in the form of simplified horn clauses. Categories inherit relations defined for parent categories.
User agents following this specification should be aware that assertions made by HTML pages are not facts, but claims. I.e., if element x claims that element y is related with relation r to element z, then the user-agent should not be entering r(y,z) into its database (i.e., "Now I know that y is related to z with the relationship r!!"). Instead, it should be entering something along the lines of r(x,y,z) into its database (i.e., "x is claiming that y is related to z with relationship r."). This is an important distinction: it's perfectly fine for HTML pages out there to be making completely false claims; one shouldn't simply accept them as truth. For similar reasons, HTML pages can only make assertions, not retractions.
Readers of earlier versions of this specification may notice that there have been some significant changes to the syntax of SHOE. These changes were necessary to make SHOE an SGML application (see Appendix A: SHOE and SGML). However, the semantics of the language are relatively unchanged.
SHOE adds the following tags to the HTML standard:
To make possible ontology declarations, SHOE adds ONTOLOGY, /ONTOLOGY, USE-ONTOLOGY, DEF-CATEGORY, DEF-RELATION, /DEF-RELATION, DEF-ARG, DEF-RENAME, DEF-CONSTANT, DEF-TYPE, DEF-INFERENCE, /DEF-INFERENCE, INF-IF, /INF-IF, INF-THEN, /INF-THEN, COMPARISON, /COMPARISON, CATEGORY, RELATION, /RELATION, and ARG.
To make possible semantic markup of HTML pages, SHOE reuses some of the tags from above and adds INSTANCE and /INSTANCE. The other tags used for markup are USE-ONTOLOGY, CATEGORY, RELATION, /RELATION, and ARG. Additionally, SHOE declares the META HTTP-EQUIV tag "SHOE".
SHOE-conformant HTML documents must declare themselves SHOE documents and provide versioning information. To be conformant with this version of the specification, SHOE documents must have the following text in the HEAD section of the document:
<META HTTP-EQUIV="SHOE" CONTENT="VERSION=1.0">
In addition to indicating the version of SHOE, the version number indicates which version of the base ontology is applicable. There is a one-to-one correspondence between a version of SHOE and a version of the base ontology.
Terms not described here may be found in the HTML 2.0 specification.
Many documents will have multiple instances, each of which must have a unique key. To create keys for additional instances within a document, add a unique pound-suffix, such as #MyDog, to the base key. For example, http://www.cs.umd.edu#MyDog is a valid key for an additional instance located at http://www.cs.umd.edu. It is good style for this key to correspond with an actual anchor in the document. Some documents may not have an instance whose key is the base key; instead all instances within it have a pound-suffix key. In fact, this approach is recommended if multiple instances exist at the outermost level (they are not enclosed within other instances).
The unique key of a non-SHOE-conformant document is defined to be one particular absolute URL of the document, chosen for the document by a SHOE-conformant document which references it.
Strings used as keys are subject to a few restrictions. Keys must begin with a letter or number and may not contain whitespace. They are also case-sensitive. The SHOE spec reserves the key "me" and any capitalized form of it. "me" (under any capitalized form) may be used as an argument of a claim to refer to the enclosing data instance actually making the claim. The SHOE spec reserves any keys beginning with "!" for referencing constant instances. See section 3.7 for more information on how to form such keys.
Ontology declarations may appear at the top level within the body of an HTML document (i.e., they may not be enclosed by any other tags within the BODY). HTML tags may not occur within an ontology declaration.
For each tag described in this section, there is a specification of the syntax in a system font. In these specifications, italics indicate that the author can supply any string that meets the naming conventions of that component and brackets ('[' or ']') enclose optional portions of the syntax.Arbitrary white space can be included between attributes within a tag and between tags.
An HTML document may contain any number of ontology definitions. Each ontology definition should use a unique identifier. Ontology definitions are accompanied with a version number. If an ontology completely subsumes previous versions of the same ontology (it contains all the rules defined in those versions), it may declare itself to be backward-compatible with those versions. To begin an ontology definition, use:
<ONTOLOGY ID="ontology-identifier" VERSION="version" [BACKWARD-COMPATIBLE-WITH="version list"] [DESCRIPTION="text"] [DECLARATORS="list-of-declaring-instances"]>
To end an ontology definition, use:
All rules and extensions in an ontology must appear between the beginning and ending declarations. Ontologies may not be nested or overlap.
An ontology may use elements from one or more existing ontologies in its own
rules. The ontology is said to extend the existing ontologies.
To distinguish between those elements and its own elements, an ontology must
provide a unique prefix for each ontology it extends. This will be prefixed to
elements borrowed from each particular ontology whenever they are referred to.
To declare that an ontology is extending another ontology, use:
<USE-ONTOLOGY ID="ontology-identifier" VERSION="version" PREFIX="prefix" [URL="URL"]>
Inside an ontology definition, an ontology may define various new categories which instances can belong to. Categories should descend from one or more parent categories. To define a new category, or to add new parent categories for a category, use:
<DEF-CATEGORY NAME="category-name" [ISA="parent-category-list"] [DESCRIPTION="text"] [SHORT="text"]>
A particular category should not be defined more than once within an ontology's declaration.
Inside an ontology definition, an ontology may define various new valid relationships between category instances or between category instances and data. To define a relationship, use:
<DEF-RELATION NAME="relation-name" [DESCRIPTION="text"]> [SHORT="text"]> argument-list </DEF-RELATION>
A particular named relationship should not be defined more than once within an ontology's declaration.
To reduce the number of prefixes, an ontology may rename any element (along with its prefix chain) to a simpler name, so long as this name is not used by another element in the ontology. Elements include categories, relations, types and constant instances. For example, an ontology could rename the category cs.junk.foo.person to simply person, so long as person is not defined elsewhere in the ontology.
To rename a category, relation, constant instance, or type, use:
<DEF-RENAME FROM="element-name" TO="new-element-name">
An ontology may declare one or more inferences which may be automatically made based on the relationship and category declarations found in marked-up SHOE text.
A SHOE inference clause is similar to a Horn clause in that it consists of a body of one or more subclauses describing claims entities might make, and a head consisting of one or more subclauses describing a claim that may be inferred if all the claims in the body do turn out to be made.
Subclause Rules. Both the head and the body of an inference clause must contain at least one subclause; inference clauses with an empty head or body are incorrect and may be ignored. A subclause in the head may either be a relation declaration or a category declaration. A subclause in the body may be either a relation declaration, a category declaration, or a comparison declaration as described below. Comparison declarations may not be made in the head. Comparison declarations permit inferences to include equals/not-equals/greater-than/less-than relationships between elements in subclauses.
Constants and Variables. The data in a head or body subclause may be either constants or variables. Constant data must be matched exactly as it is. Variables may be matched (bound) to any constant data interned by a SHOE agent, so long as variables of the same name in subclauses within the same inference clause always bind to the same value, and fill argument positions of the same type. Variables are case-insensitive: the variable V matches with the variable v.
Variable Rules . There are two variable rules, intended to eliminate ambiguities and excess computational complexity in the inference clauses:
Inference clauses that do not meet these constraints are incorrect and may be ignored.
A SHOE inference has the form:
<DEF-INFERENCE [DESCRIPTION="text"]> <INF-IF> body-subclauses </INF-IF> <INF-THEN> head-subclauses </INF-THEN> </DEF-INFERENCE>
An inference may have one or more body subclauses; this set is enclosed by the <INF-IF> and </INF-IF> tags. Each body subclause is either a category declaration, a relationship declaration, or a comparison declaration. Body subclauses indicate claims that must be actually made by SHOE documents for the inferences in the head subclause to take place.
To define that a body subclause is a category declaration, use:
<CATEGORY NAME="prefixed.category" FOR="instance" [[USAGE=]("VAR" | "CONST")]>
To define that a body subclause is a relationship declaration, use:
<RELATION NAME="prefixed.relationship"> argument-list </RELATION>
To define that a body subclause is a comparison declaration, use:
<COMPARISON OP="special.declaration"> argument-1 argument-2 </COMPARISON>
A comparison must have exactly two arguments. It is incorrect for an ontology to declare comparison declaration subclauses that have any other number of arguments; if this happens, the inference clause is incorrect and may be ignored.
An inference may have one or more head subclauses, the set of which is enclosed by the <INF-THEN> and </INF-THEN> tags. Each head subclause is either a category declaration or a relationship declaration. A head subclause indicates a claim that may be inferred if all the claims defined in the body subclauses are met.
To define that a head subclause is a category declaration, use the <CATEGORY> tag. The syntax and semantics are the same as those for defining a category subclause in the body of the inference as described above.
To define that a head subclause is a relationship declaration, use the <RELATION> tag. The syntax and semantics are the same as those for defining a relation subclause in the body of the inference as described above.
When declaring an ontology definition, the DECLARATORS subtag might be used to declare standard instances like "Red" which are subclasses of the ontology-defined class Color and are used in the colorOf relationship. However, the key for "Red" may then turn out to be something like "http://www.cs.umd.edu/ontology-associated-instance.html#Red". This is not very nice for common, very standard instances (like colors). To remedy this, SHOE allows ontologies themselves to declare instances, using:
<DEF-CONSTANT NAME="constant-instance-name" [CATEGORY="prefixed-category-name"]>
The key for this instance is defined as a "!" followed by the constant instance name plus its prefix chain. For example, if an ontology defined "Red" as a constant instance, and some instance uses this ontology with the "cs" prefix, then the instance can reference "Red" with the key "!cs.Red". Note that this means that there may be more than one key referencing the same constant instance, depending on the particular path of prefixes chosen. All such keys should resolve to the same instance.
If the ontology wants to do anything additional to the instance (such as making more categorizations or relationships for it), it must rely on the DECLARATORS mechanism to do this.
If you're trying to define a new data type that requires special interpretation of the data string, and does not have a small, predefined set of possible values, it's probably better to declare an arbitrary data type to do this.
The base ontology of SHOE defines the global data types STRING, NUMBER, DATE, and TRUTH. Each of these data types interprets data inside the HTML string differently. For example, if "2345" is a STRING, it's interpreted as the string "2345". If it's a NUMBER, it is interpreted as the integer 2345. It is possible for an ontology to declare its own data types; how to interpret data stored under an ontology-defined type is implementation dependent. SHOE reserves for future use any type names containing a character other than a letter, a number, or a hyphen.
Unlike SHOE global types which can have empty prefix chains (that is, there is no string before the period), ontology-defined types must be referenced just as ontology-defined categories are: with the prefix chain back to the ontology that defines the type. To define a type, use
<DEF-TYPE NAME="type-name" [DESCRIPTION="text"] [SHORT="text"]>
If you want to declare a data type consisting of a choice of one or more predefined elements (for example, buildings on a university campus or the primary colors red/green/blue), it's better not to use an arbitrary data type to but instead use one or more constant instances.
Instance declarations may appear at the top level within the body of an HTML
document (i.e., they may not be enclosed by any other tags within the
BODY). HTML tags may not occur within an instance declaration. Any
declarations made within an instance are considered to be claims by it. To
declare the start of an instance, use:
<INSTANCE KEY="key-value" [DELEGATE-TO="instance-list]>
Typically, the delegated instance will declare a special subinstance of the same key name as the permitting instance's key. Agents should consider all claims made within that subinstance as if they were made by the permitting instance itself. This might be done to consolidate claims for a web site into a single document, perhaps, or to eliminate a large number of claims from slowing down the download time of a document. If the delegated instance does not in fact declare this special subinstance, then delegating declarative power is simply a pointer to an agent to look elsewhere for relevant SHOE knowledge.
Delegated subinstances should be considered proxies for the delegating instance, and any subinstances contained within a delegated subinstance should be considered proxies for subinstances within the delegating instance. An agent can guess that a subinstance is a delegated subinstance instead of an ordinary subinstance by examining its key. If the key is not formed from the base key of the enclosing instance, it's more than likely a delegated subinstance for some instance in another document. However, an agent should not take this at face value, but should check the delegating instance first to make certain that the delegation is valid.
To mark the end of an instance, use:
All category and relationship declarations must appear between the start and end tags of an instance. An instance may also declare other instances ("subinstances") nested within it. The syntax for declaring a subinstance is the same as for declaring an instance.
Before you can classify instances or establish relationships between them,
you'll need to define exactly which ontologies these classifications and
relations are derived from, and associate with each of these ontologies some
prefix unique to that ontology. An instance may declare that it is using as
many ontologies as it likes, as long as each of these ontologies has a unique
prefix. To declare that an instance and all its subinstances use a particular
<USE-ONTOLOGY ID="ontology-identifier" VERSION="version" PREFIX="prefix" [URL="URL"]>
Note that the syntax for USE-ONTOLOGY is the same when it appears inside of an instance as when it appears inside an ontology definition.
Instances may be classified, that is, they may be declared to belong to one or more categories in an ontology, using the CATEGORY tag:
<CATEGORY NAME="prefixed.category" [FOR="key"]>
Instances may declare relationships with elements. To declare relationships between elements, use:
<RELATION NAME="prefixed.relationship"> argument-list </RELATION>
Relation declarations take two forms, the "binary" form and the "general" form.
The "binary" form is used only for binary relationships. In this form, POS can be FROM or TO. One of these arguments may be omitted if the corresponding element type is INSTANCE. In this case, the key for the element is assumed to be that of the enclosing instance. If the tag is declared, and the type of the tag's argument is an instance, then it provides the key.
The "general" form may be used for relationships of any number of arguments (including binary relationships). In this form, POS is set to 1, 2, 3, 4, ..., etc. It is incorrect for an instance to declare relationships with a different number of arguments than were defined for that relation in the ontology. If the number of arguments does not correspond, the relationship is incorrect and may be ignored. Note that this is different from the assumptions in the "binary" form.
Regardless of form, it is incorrect for two or more arguments to refer to the same POS. If a relation declares arguments of this nature, it may be ignored. If no arguments are specified with the <ARG> tag, then the "general" form is assumed, with zero arguments declared.
The reason for two different forms is that while the "general" form is necessary to describe all possible relationships, the large majority of relationships are binary relationships between the claimant and some other instance or data. Hence, the "binary" format allows the claimant to declare binary relationships in a more natural format ("to" and "from") and not have to include himself in the claim when it's clear from the context. The "binary" form makes relations feel more like slots in the claimant "object" than ordinary predicate relationships.
Appendix A: SHOE and SGML
SHOE has been designed to be an application of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). SGML is an ISO standard for document markup, and HTML is now specified as an SGML application. All SGML applications require a Document Type Definition (DTD). The DTD specifies what tags can be used in a document and the structure of the relationship of these tags to one another. SHOE builds upon the HTML 3.2 DTD by redefining the block entity to include the elements ONTOLOGY and INSTANCE, and then defining the corresponding sub-elements. The formal SHOE DTD is located at http://www.cs.umd.edu/projects/plus/SHOE/shoe.dtd. A copy of the DTD is below:
<!-- DTD for SHOE --> <!-- Last Mod: 1/1/98 --> <!ENTITY % shoe.content "ONTOLOGY | INSTANCE" > <!-- The following three entity declarations are used to override the HTML content model for blocks, so that an ONTOLOGY or INSTANCE can appear anywhere a block can. Typically this is as a top level element in the BODY of the HTML document --> <!ENTITY % list "UL | OL | DIR | MENU"> <!ENTITY % preformatted "PRE"> <!ENTITY % block "P | %list | %preformatted | DL | DIV | CENTER | BLOCKQUOTE | FORM | ISINDEX | HR | TABLE | %shoe.content;"> <!-- Declarations for ontologies --> <!ELEMENT ONTOLOGY - - (USE-ONTOLOGY |DEF-CATEGORY | DEF-RELATION | DEF-RENAME | DEF-INFERENCE | DEF-CONSTANT | DEF-TYPE)* > <!ATTLIST ONTOLOGY id CDATA #REQUIRED version CDATA #REQUIRED description CDATA #IMPLIED declarators CDATA #IMPLIED backward-compatible-with CDATA #IMPLIED > <!ELEMENT USE-ONTOLOGY - O EMPTY > <!ATTLIST USE-ONTOLOGY id CDATA #REQUIRED version CDATA #REQUIRED prefix CDATA #REQUIRED url CDATA #IMPLIED > <!ELEMENT DEF-CATEGORY - O EMPTY > <!ATTLIST DEF-CATEGORY name CDATA #REQUIRED isa CDATA #IMPLIED description CDATA #IMPLIED short CDATA #IMPLIED > <!ELEMENT DEF-RELATION - - (DEF-ARG)* > <!ATTLIST DEF-RELATION name CDATA #REQUIRED short CDATA #IMPLIED description CDATA #IMPLIED > <!ELEMENT DEF-ARG - O EMPTY > <!ATTLIST DEF-ARG pos CDATA #REQUIRED type CDATA #REQUIRED short CDATA #IMPLIED > <!-- pos must be either an integer, or one of the strings: FROM or TO --> <!ELEMENT DEF-RENAME - O EMPTY > <!ATTLIST DEF-RENAME from CDATA #REQUIRED to CDATA #REQUIRED > <!ELEMENT DEF-CONSTANT - O EMPTY > <!ATTLIST DEF-CONSTANT name CDATA #REQUIRED category CDATA #IMPLIED > <!ELEMENT DEF-TYPE - O EMPTY > <!ATTLIST DEF-TYPE name CDATA #REQUIRED description CDATA #IMPLIED short CDATA #IMPLIED > <!-- Delcarations for inferences --> <!-- Inferences consist of if and then parts, each of which can contain multiple relation and category clauses --> <!ELEMENT DEF-INFERENCE - - (INF-IF, INF-THEN) > <!ATTLIST DEF-INFERENCE description CDATA #IMPLIED > <!ELEMENT INF-IF - - (CATEGORY | RELATION | COMPARISON)+ > <!ELEMENT INF-THEN - - (CATEGORY | RELATION)+ > <!ELEMENT COMPARISON - - (ARG, ARG) > <!ATTLIST COMPARISON op (equal | notEqual | greaterThan | greaterThanOrEqual | lessThanOrEqual | lessThan) #REQUIRED > <!-- Declarations for instances --> <!ELEMENT INSTANCE - - (USE-ONTOLOGY | CATEGORY | RELATION | INSTANCE)* > <!ATTLIST INSTANCE key CDATA #REQUIRED delegate-to CDATA #IMPLIED > <!ELEMENT CATEGORY - O EMPTY > <!ATTLIST CATEGORY name CDATA #REQUIRED for CDATA #IMPLIED usage (VAR | CONST) CONST > <!-- If VAR is specified for a category that is not within a <DEF-INFERENCE>, then it is ignored --> <!ELEMENT RELATION - - (ARG)* > <!ATTLIST RELATION name CDATA #REQUIRED > <!ELEMENT ARG - O EMPTY > <!ATTLIST ARG pos CDATA #REQUIRED value CDATA #REQUIRED usage (VAR | CONST) CONST > <!-- pos must be either an integer, or one of the strings: FROM or TO. --> <!-- If VAR is specified for an arg that is not within a <DEF-INFERENCE>, then it is ignored --> <!-- Include DTD for HTML --> <!ENTITY % HTMLDTD PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2 Final//EN" > %HTMLDTD;
Appendix B: SHOE and XML
The Extensible Markup Language(XML) was designed to be a simplified
version of SGML for the Internet, and is growing in popularity.
SHOE was originally designed to be embedded in HTML pages, but since
it uses an SGML syntax it can be used within XML documents with
only a minimum of modifications. The XML version of the SHOE DTD can
be found at http://www.cs.umd.edu/projects/plus/SHOE/shoe_xml.dtd.
Before you can include the XML version of SHOE in a document, you
must make sure that the document is XML compliant. If it is an
HTML document, then you make the document compliant with the W3C's
XHTML 1.0: The Extensible
HyperText Markup Language. Then to
include SHOE in the XHTML markup, simply follow the guidelines set forth in
the W3C's Namespaces
in XML Recommendation. Essentially, this means insert the following
at the desired location in the document:
Due to the differences in between SGML and XML, SHOE XML is more restrictive and requires a slight variant in syntax than that described in the main section of this document.
SHOE can also be used independently of XHTML. A non-embedded SHOE XML
document must begin with the appropriate XML prolog: