CUBIST project aims at better Semantic Web search

IT researchers from Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) have joined a €4m three-year EC initiative aiming at creating new Internet search tools that will enable enterprises to extract better business intelligence from the Semantic Web.

A team from SHU’s Communication and Computing Research Centre (CCRC) will contribute to the CUBIST (Combining and Uniting Business Intelligence with Semantic Technologies) project to develop methodologies and a platform that combines features of semantic techniques with those of standard business intelligence (BI).

The Semantic Web describes methods and technologies to allow machines to understand the meaning – or ‘semantics’ – of data and information resources that exist on the World Wide Web.

Only a limited proportion of data posted to the public Internet can be ‘read’ intelligently by current-generation search tools, leaving users having to visit multiple websites to track-down required information, explains Dr Simon Andrews, SHU CCRC senior lecturer in software engineering: “Classic BI is not good at extracting meaning from unstructured data online – but that’s often where the most valuable data is. We are aiming at developing new ways to interrogate not only the massive volume data on the Internet, but also analyse the different formats it exist in – such as blogs, wikis, and video.”

The CCRC’s contribution is focused primarily in Formal Concept Analysis (FCA), a way of deriving an ontology from groups of objects and their properties, as Andrews explains: “We will be developing software and analysis techniques based on FCA, and working closely with the visualisation experts in the consortium to develop visual analytics based on the FCA concept lattice, and also with the data warehousing/triple-store experts in the consortium in developing a data preparation system for FCA.”

The Sheffield group will also supply an 80-core computer platform for the CUBIST system that gives the data capacity and computational processing required for large-scale data analysis. Funding for the SHU’s work was secured with help from regional development enabler Enterprise Europe Yorkshire. The CUBIST initiative itself is led by German software giant SAP.

CUBIST is part of the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7), the EU’s programme for funding research to 2013 for research aimed at supporting business growth within its borders. Other CUBIST participants include space technology company Space Applications Services, semantic technology developer Ontotext, and visual analystic specialist Centrale Recherche SA. The project will use data from the Edinburgh Mouse Atlas Project (a digital Atlas of mouse embryonic development) at Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh.

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