A Contextualised Semantics for owl:sameAs

  • Wouter BeekEmail author
  • Stefan Schlobach
  • Frank van Harmelen
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9678)


Identity relations are at the foundation of the Semantic Web and the Linked Data Cloud. In many instances the classical interpretation of identity is too strong for practical purposes. This is particularly the case when two entities are considered the same in some but not all contexts. Unfortunately, modeling the specific contexts in which an identity relation holds is cumbersome and, due to arbitrary reuse and the Open World Assumption, it is impossible to anticipate all contexts in which an entity will be used. We propose an alternative semantics for owl:sameAs that partitions the original relation into a hierarchy of subrelations. The subrelation to which an identity statement belongs depends on the dataset in which the statement occurs. Adding future assertions may change the subrelation to which an identity statement belongs, resulting in a context-dependent and non-monotonic semantics. We show that this more fine-grained semantics is better able to characterize the actual use of owl:sameAs as observed in Linked Open Datasets.


Identity Relation Identity Lattice Formal Concept Analysis Identity Pair Identity Criterion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wouter Beek
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stefan Schlobach
    • 1
  • Frank van Harmelen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands

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