The Identity Problem in Description Logic Ontologies and Its Application to View-Based Information Hiding

  • Franz BaaderEmail author
  • Daniel Borchmann
  • Adrian Nuradiansyah
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10675)


The work in this paper is motivated by a privacy scenario in which the identity of certain persons (represented as anonymous individuals) should be hidden. We assume that factual information about known individuals (i.e., individuals whose identity is known) and anonymous individuals is stored in an ABox and general background information is expressed in a TBox, where both the TBox and the ABox are publicly accessible. The identity problem then asks whether one can deduce from the TBox and the ABox that a given anonymous individual is equal to a known one. Since this would reveal the identity of the anonymous individual, such a situation needs to be avoided. We first observe that not all Description Logics (DLs) are able to derive any such equalities between individuals, and thus the identity problem is trivial in these DLs. We then consider DLs with nominals, number restrictions, or function dependencies, in which the identity problem is non-trivial. We show that in these DLs the identity problem has the same complexity as the instance problem. Finally, we consider an extended scenario in which users with different rôles can access different parts of the TBox and ABox, and we want to check whether, by a sequence of rôle changes and queries asked in each rôle, one can deduce the identity of an anonymous individual.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Franz Baader
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Borchmann
    • 1
  • Adrian Nuradiansyah
    • 1
  1. 1.Theoretical Computer ScienceTU DresdenDresdenGermany

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