Through the courtesy of Hewlett Packard Lab’s Semantic Blogging Demonstrator, I came across this excellent HP technical paper by Dave Reynolds, Carol Thompson, Jishnu Mukerji, and Derek Coleman, "An Assessment of RDF/OWL Modelling," HPL Technical Report 2005-189, October 28, 2005, 24 pp.
According to the paper’s authors:
We identify the primary strengths of RDF/OWL as:
- Support for information integration and reuse of shared vocabularies
- Handling of semi-structured data
- Separation of syntax from data modelling
- Web embedding
- Extensibility and resilience to change
- Support for inference and classification, based on a formal semantics
- Representation flexibility, especially ability to model graph structures
- Ability to represent instance and class information in the same formalism and hence combine them.
Weaknesses noted are:
- Weak ability to validate documents
- Expressivity limitations, particularly in terms of correlating across different properties of a resource
- XML serialization issues and impedance mismatch with XML tooling
- Lack of familiarity and potentially high learning curve
- Inability to natively represent uncertain data and continuous domains
- No built-in representation of processes and change
We conclude that RDF/OWL is particularly suited to modelling applications which involve distributed information problems such as integration of data from multiple sources, publication of shared vocabularies to enable interoperability and development of resilient networks of systems which can cope with changes to the data models. It has less to offer in closed world or point- to-point processing problems where the data models are stable and the data is not to be made available to other clients.
This report is highly recommended to those just becoming familiar with semantic Web protocols with a need for assessing trade-offs.