Don't like RDF Reification? Making Statements about Statements Using Singleton Property

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Conference Proceeding

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Statements about RDF statements, or meta triples, provide additional information about individual triples, such as the source, the occurring time or place, or the certainty. Integrating such meta triples into semantic knowledge bases would enable the querying and reasoning mechanisms to be aware of provenance, time, location, or certainty of triples. However, an efficient RDF representation for such meta knowledge of triples remains challenging. The existing standard reification approach allows such meta knowledge of RDF triples to be expressed using RDF by two steps. The first step is representing the triple by a Statement instance which has subject, predicate, and object indicated separately in three different triples. The second step is creating assertions about that instance as if it is a statement. While reification is simple and intuitive, this approach does not have formal semantics and is not commonly used in practice as described in the RDF Primer. In this paper, we propose a novel approach called Singleton Property for representing statements about statements and provide a formal semantics for it. We explain how this singleton property approach fits well with the existing syntax and formal semantics of RDF, and the syntax of SPARQL query language. We also demonstrate the use of singleton property in the representation and querying of meta knowledge in two examples of Semantic Web knowledge bases: YAGO2 and BKR. Our experiments on the BKR show that the singleton property approach gives a decent performance in terms of number of triples, query length and query execution time compared to existing approaches. This approach, which is also simple and intuitive, can be easily adopted for representing and querying statements about statements in other knowledge bases.


Presented at the 23rd International World Wide Web Conference, Seoul, Korea, April 7-11, 2014.

Information about Singleton Property can be found at: