Project : axis
Section: Scientific Foundations
Keywords : semantics, formal semantics, semantic Web, semantic checking.
Semantics and Design of Hypertext Information Systems
Designing and maintaining hypertext information systems, such as Web sites, are a real challenge. On the Web, it is much easier to found inconsistent pieces of information than a well structured site. Our goal is to study and build tools that are necessary to design, develop and maintain complex but coherent sites. We use a multi-disciplinary approach, involving Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence techniques. There is a strong relation between structured documents (such as Web sites) and a program; the Web is a good candidate to experiment some of the ideas which have been developed in the software engineering world.
Most of the efforts deployed in the Web domain were related to languages for documents presentation (HTML, CSS, XSL) and structure (XML), to Web sites modeling and Web services (UML), but not to the formal semantics of Web sites to support quality and evolution of Web sites. The initiative led by the W3C consortium on Web Semantic (XML, RDF, RDF-schema) and ontologies aims at a different objective related to resource discovery.
The term "semantics" has at least two significations:
the scientific study of the meaning of words and texts,
the study of propositions in a deductive theory.
We will use this last definition when trying to give a formal semantics to Web sites.
We distinguish between the static aspects of a site that may involve a set of global constraints (not only syntactic, but also semantic and context dependent) to be verified, and the dynamic aspects. Dynamic aspects formalize the navigation inside a Web side which also needs to be specified and validated (cf. the execution of a program).
Our approach is different but related to the Semantic Web. The main goal of the Semantic Web is to ease computer-based data mining, formalizing data that is mostly textual, for further discovery. We are concerned by the way Web sites are constructed in the first place, taking into account their development and their semantics. In this respect we are closer to what is called content management.
We use approaches and techniques imported from logic programming and formal semantics of programming languages, in particular operational semantics.