Project

Back to overview

Processing Possibly Vague Spatio-Thematic Queries

English title Processing Possibly Vague Spatio-Thematic Queries
Applicant Grütter Rolf
Number 130151
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Swiss Federal Research Inst. WSL Direktion
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research - WSL
Main discipline Information Technology
Start/End 01.09.2010 - 31.12.2015
Approved amount 213'493.00
Show all

Keywords (5)

Spatio-Thematic Query Processing; Vague Spatial Relations; Knowledge Representation; Region Connection Calculus (RCC); Description Logics

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Existing search engines on the Web are weak in supporting spatial queries. While local prepositions, such as "close to", may be used as strings in a query, they are usually evaluated according to the frequency of their occurrence in the indexed documents and not according to their meaning in natural language. When searching for businesses or government agencies in urban centers some engines return resources of real world entities, which are "in the surroundings of" or "close to" a reference place. However, this does not apply to the entire range of resources on the Web and not to rural areas.This project addresses the shortcomings of existing search services by developing a framework for the processing of (possibly vague) spatio-thematic queries, which is generally applicable. The framework uses a declarative formalism in order to represent spatial knowledge. This allows spatial knowledge to be combined with thematic knowledge, which is nowadays usually expressed in declarative Web Ontology Language (OWL). If the represented spatial relations are linked to local prepositions, such as "close to" or "next to", then queries using vague spatial concepts can be processed.The objectives of the proposed project thus are to* develop a theory of vague spatial relations;* explore competing implementation strategies for an application to process (possibly vague) spatio-thematic queries;* evaluate the framework using a prototype application.The first objective is addressed by extending the Region Connection Calculus (RCC), which is a formalism for spatial knowledge representation and inference, and by establishing mappings between frequently used local prepositions and spatial relations. Addressing the second objective involves describing the conditions under which each strategy is successful and identifying the most promising for productive use in applications. Addressing the third objective requires identifying the degree of agreement/disagreement between a set of local prepositions, as perceived by human subjects, and the corresponding spatial relations, as computed by the prototype application, for a set of pairs of spatial features.The successful project will pave the way for a new kind of "intelligent" application that can be used to solve problems requiring both thematic and spatial knowledge. Potential uses include both expert systems and Web 2.0 applications supporting geo-related activities, such as geo-marketing, in industries, such as housing, tourism and media. Potential uses also include applications outside the geospatial domain, for instance, applications that acquire knowledge by extracting information from multimedia content.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Contextualized Search for Nearness
Novel Marc (2015), Contextualized Search for Nearness, in Proceedings of the Doctoral Symposium of CONTEXT 2015, Larnaca, Cyprus.
SHAX: A Semantic Historical Archive eXplorer
Feldman Michael, Gao Shen, Novel Marc, Papaioannou Katerina, Bernstein Abraham (2014), SHAX: A Semantic Historical Archive eXplorer, in Proceedings of the ISWC 2014 Posters & Demonstrations Track, Riva del Garda, Italy.
Dynamics of a Nearness Relation—First Results
Özçep Özgür L., Grütter Rolf, Möller Ralf (2012), Dynamics of a Nearness Relation—First Results, in STeDy 2012: International Workshop on Spatio-Temporal Dynamics, Bremen.
Nearness Rules and Scaled Proximity
Özçep Özgür L., Grütter Rolf, Möller Ralf (2012), Nearness Rules and Scaled Proximity, in Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, Amsterdam: IOS PressUniversity Desktop Publishing, Zurich.
Making close to Suitable for Web Search A Comparison of Two Approaches
Helming Iris, Bernstein Abraham, Grütter Rolf, Vock Stephan (2011), Making close to Suitable for Web Search A Comparison of Two Approaches, in Terra Cognita 2011 Workshop on Foundations, Technologies and Applications of the Geospatial Web, Aachen Tilburg: CEUR Workshop ProceedingsCEUR-WS, Aachen Tilburg.
Rewriting Queries for Web Searches That Use Local Expressions
Grütter Rolf, Helming Iris, Speich Simon, Bernstein Abraham (2011), Rewriting Queries for Web Searches That Use Local Expressions, in Rule-Based Reasoning, Programming, and Applications, Berlin Heidelberg: SpringerSpringer, Berlin Heidelberg.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Faculty of Computer Science, University of New Brunswick, NB Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) / Universität zu Lübeck Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Doctoral Symposium of the 9th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context (CONTEXT 2015) Talk given at a conference Contextualized Search for Nearness 02.11.2015 Larnaca, Cyprus Novel Marc;
13th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2014) Poster SHAX: A Semantic Historical Archive eXplorer 21.10.2014 Riva del Garda, Italy Novel Marc;
6th International Workshop on the Foundations, Technologies and Applications of the Geospatial Web (Terra Cognita 2014) Talk given at a conference Retrieving Wikipedia Pages of Topologically Related Administrative Divisions via Linked Data 20.10.2014 Riva del Garda, Italy Grütter Rolf;
Geographic Information Retrieval Tutorial (GIRT 2012) Talk given at a conference Exploring The Linked Open Data Cloud to Retrieve Geographic Information: Some Challenges 24.04.2012 Avignon, France Grütter Rolf;
RuleML 2011 - The 5th International Symposium on Rules: Research Based and Industry Focused Talk given at a conference Rewriting Queries for Web Searches that Use Local Expressions 19.07.2011 Barcelona, Spain, Spain Helming Iris; Grütter Rolf; Bernstein Abraham;
The 8th European Summer School on Ontological Engineering and the Semantic Web (SSSW 2011) Poster Tell me what's near Zürich! 10.07.2011 Cercedilla (near Madrid), Spain, Spain Helming Iris;


Abstract

Search engines on the Web are not designed to support spatial queries. While local prepositions, such as “adjacent to”, may be used as strings in a query, they are evaluated according to the frequency of their occurrence in the indexed documents and not according to their meaning in natural language. This proposal addresses the shortcomings of existing search services by developing a framework for the processing of (possibly vague) spatio-thematic queries. The proposed project is limited to a part of Switzerland and to the environmental domain, but it is intended to be in a form that can be scaled up to the global size of the Web and to other domains in the future. The project uses a declarative formalism for representing spatial knowledge. This allows spatial knowledge to be combined with thematic knowledge represented according to an ontology. If the represented spatial relations are linked to local prepositions, such as “close to”, “near”, “next to”, “a short distance outside”, “a long way off”, and “far away from”, then queries using vague spatial concepts can be processed. This requires some additions to the existing theory of spatial knowledge representation.The objectives of the proposed project are to?*develop a theory of vague spatial relations based on the Region Connection Calculus (RCC);?*explore competing implementation strategies for an application to process (possibly vague) spatio-thematic queries;?*evaluate the best approach using a prototype application.One of the implementation strategies for an application supporting the processing of (possibly vague) spatio-thematic queries will be explored in collaboration with the Hamburg University of Technology, Software, Technology, and Systems (STS-TUHH) in the course of their doctoral project GeoDL. This was approved in April 2009 by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).The proposed project will address a number of significant research questions:1.How can (possibly vague) local prepositions be formalized such that they can be processed according to their intended meaning?2.Which implementation strategies are the most promising in terms of productive use for an application to process (possibly vague) spatio-thematic queries?3.What is the degree of agreement/disagreement between a set of local prepositions, as perceived by human subjects, and the corresponding spatial relations, as computed by the prototype application, for a set of pairs of spatial features?The first question will be addressed in terms of a theory of vague spatial relations and a set of mappings between frequently used local prepositions and (possibly vague) spatial relations. The theory will serve as a basis for the development of a practical application capable of processing (possibly vague) spatio-thematic queries. Addressing the second question will involve describing the conditions under which each strategy is successful, and identify the most promising for productive application. Answering the third question requires identifying a set of (possibly vague) spatial relations that are sufficiently well defined for productive use in an application. The outcomes should add to our knowledge about how geometrical computations in a Geographic Information System (GIS) are combined with reasoning services provided by a knowledge representation system based on description logics in general.The successful project will pave the way for a new kind of “intelligent” application that can be used to solve problems requiring both thematic and spatial knowledge. This can be further developed for potential applications and business innovations in a broad range of industries, such as housing, tourism and media. In the particular context of the search services focused on in this proposal, applications will support users in asking (possibly vague) spatio-thematic queries in a language which is close to their way of thinking. The results of searches using these applications are expected to meet users’ expectations better than those of existing search services in that they take into account the meaning of local prepositions in natural language.
-