Supporting Arbitrary Custom Datatypes in RDF and SPARQL

  • Maxime LefrançoisEmail author
  • Antoine Zimmermann
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9678)


In the Resource Description Framework, literals are composed of a UNICODE string (the lexical form), a datatype IRI, and optionally, when the datatype IRI is rdf:langString, a language tag. Any IRI can take the place of a datatype IRI, but the specification only defines the precise meaning of a literal when the datatype IRI is among a predefined subset. Custom datatypes have reported use on the Web of Data, and show some advantages in representing some classical structures. Yet, their support by RDF processors is rare and implementation specific. In this paper, we first present the minimal set of functions that should be defined in order to make a custom datatype usable in query answering and reasoning. Based on this, we discuss solutions that would enable: (i) data publishers to publish the definition of arbitrary custom datatypes on the Web, and (ii) generic RDF processor or SPARQL query engine to discover custom datatypes on-the-fly, and to perform operations on them accordingly. Finally, we detail a concrete solution that targets arbitrarily complex custom datatypes, we overview its implementation in Jena and ARQ, and we report the results of an experiment on a real world DBpedia use case.


Literals Datatypes RDF Linked data 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.École Nationale Supérieure des Mines, FAYOL-ENSMSE, Laboratoire Hubert CurienSaint-ÉtienneFrance

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