SPARQL is the new King of all Data Scientist’s tools

Inspired by the development of semantic technologies in recent years, in statistical analysis field the traditional methodology of designing, publishing and consuming statistical datasets is evolving to so-called “Linked Statistical Data” by associating semantics with dimensions, attributes and observation values based on Linked Data design principles.

The representation of datasets is no longer a combination of magic words and numbers. Everything is becoming meaningful when URIs replace their positions as dereferencable resources, which further establishes the relations between resources implicitly and automatically. Different datasets are no longer isolated and all datasets share a globally, uniquely and uniformly defined structure.

With “RDF Data Cube Vocabulary” ( there is already a W3C Recommendation available for linked statistical data . At this point, it is time to start building data-oriented applications and services with the traditional statistical computing languages such as R, while benefiting from the omnipotent semantic power of the SPARQL query language.

Most of the statistical analysis functions are set operations performed on subsets of a dataset (i.e., a slice, a facet, etc.). Calculation is dull machine work but how to group and create a subset is actually the innovation point to produce analytics. Thanks to SPARQL, now this subset can be created from a semantic perspective instead of mathematics and statistics.

Compared to the traditional filtering way using SQL queries, SPARQL queries eliminate the boundaries of data among datasets and among databases.

An example query can be “list the bestsellers of a supermarket for category science fiction movie in year 2014”. Someone may point out that it is also feasible with SQL if the database schema consists of all relevant fields. Well, it is absolutely correct. But what if there are more conditions such as “during weekends, directed by an American director, casted by European actors”? Is it necessary for a supermarket to maintain such data sets? Assume that there is a supermarket of which the boss is a movie fans and he would like to maintain such data and SQL is working perfectly so far. Can we reuse this query, and accordingly the Web application for another supermarket? Here we have good reasons why we use SPARQL. Any accessible resource can be used to construct the query results.

SPARQL is the new King of all Data Scientist’s tools because …

  1. SPARQL is close to how human beings actually think about the world.
  2. With SPARQL you can query knowledge graphs.
  3. SPARQL is based on knowledge models that can combine mindsets of subject-matter experts, data engineers and information architects.
  4. SPARQL is to the Semantic Web and the Web in general what SQL is to relational databases.
  5. SPARQL is a W3C recommendation and is supported by many different database vendors, so it doesn’t cause lock-in effects as we’ve become used to with various types of SQL engines (which are not standardized at all).
  6. With SPARQL you benefit from the potential to make a collection of data sources look and query like one big database.
  7. SPARQL provides pattern based search functionality. With such search capabilities you can find out unknown linkages or non-obvious patterns that give you new insights into your data.
  8. Not only is SPARQL a standardized query language, also the access via web interfaces is standardized (this is called a SPARQL endpoint). This makes the integration of different data sources a lot easier.
  9. SPARQL is also a standardized update and graph traversal language.
  10. SPARQL is a standardized protocol producing standardized results, thus making it a complete API alleviating developers from the necessity to reinvent an API with every single application.
  11. With SPARQL you can query over structured and unstructured information as a whole.
  12. SPARQL allows you to explore data. In contrast to traditional ways to query databases where knowledge about the database schema/content is necessary SPARQL allows you to ask “tell me what is there”.
  13. SPARQL property paths offer completely new ways to explore a data set, e.g. by detecting ‘hidden links’ between business objects.
  14. With SPARQL you can define inference rules to gain new information from existing facts.

10 Business Solutions based on Linked Data and Semantic Technologies

2013: Linked data technologies have matured, linked data community has grown, interest both from private industry and from the government is considerable.

A key questions that I get asked again and again is: which business solutions can be built based on linked data? Here is ‘our’ list of 10 solutions:

Semantic FAQ-System

PoolParty FAQ-System PoolParty has its brandnew FAQ-system to find answers for frequently asked questions instantly. The system helps to find questions, answers and corresponding pages in the documentation – with a little help from semantics: the FAQ-system is based on PoolParty PowerTagging and automatic content recommender for Confluence and can be seen as a ‘general approach’ for digital assistants in the fields of self-servicing and e-care especially for complex services and products.

The PoolParty approach for efficient knowledge modeling

The PoolParty approach for efficient knowledge modeling is based on methods from

  • text analytics and text mining
  • linked data management
  • SKOS thesaurus modeling
  • ontology engineering and
  • semantic wikis

and recombines these techniques to a unique approach to create complex knowledge models which can be further used for all of the above mentioned tasks, semantic search, and knowledge discovery in big data sets.

Using DBpedia to generate SKOS thesauri

In recent years, we have constantly discussed the application of thesauri and other knowledge models to improve search. Many people understand that thesaurus based search is in many cases better than search algorithms purely based on statistics. Of course the big contra always was, “the costs are too high to establish a good-enough thesaurus or even a high-quality one”.

Imagine you could generate any thesaurus you would like for nearly any knowledge domain you can think of with quite a good quality! Sounds impossible? Reminds you of all the promises made by text mining software which generates “semantic nets” from scratch?

Here at the Semantic Web Company we have been working on SKOSsy for a while. I will explain what this web service can do for you:

SKOSsy generates SKOS based thesauri in German or in English for a domain you are interested in. SKOSsy extracts data from DBpedia, so it can cover anything which is in DBpedia. Thus, SKOSsy works well whenever a first seed thesaurus should be generated for a certain organisation or project. If you load the automatically generated thesaurus into an editor like PoolParty Thesaurus Manager (PPT) you can start to enrich the knowledge model by additional concepts, relations and links to other LOD sources. But you don´t have to start in the open countryside with your thesaurus project.

With SKOSsy in place custom-tailored text extractors can be produced with low effort. To sum up,

  • SKOSsy makes heavy use of Linked Data sources, especially DBpedia
  • SKOSsy can generate SKOS thesauri for virtually any domain within a few minutes
  • Such thesauri can be improved, curated and extended to one´s individual needs but they serve usually as “good-enough” knowledge models for any semantic search application you like
  • SKOSsy based semantic search usually outperform search algorithms based on statistics since they contain high-quality information about relations, labels and disambiguation
  • SKOSsy works perfectly together with PoolParty product family

Which domains are you interested in? Give it a try!