Resource Description Framework (RDF)

Editors' Working Draft 27 June 2002

This version:
Latest version:
Previous version:
Graham Klyne (Clearswift and Nine by Nine)
Jeremy Carroll (Hewlett Packard Labs)
Series editor:
Brian McBride (Hewlett Packard Labs)



Status of this Document

The following text refers to the intended status of this document: it has not yet been approved by the RDF core working group or W3C director and has no status other than editors' working draft at this time.

This is a W3C RDF Core Working Group Working Draft produced as part of the W3C Semantic Web Activity (Activity Statement).

This document is being released for review by W3C Members and other interested parties to encourage feedback and comments, especially with regard to how the changes affect existing implementations and content.

This is a public W3C Working Draft and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use W3C Working Drafts as reference material or to cite as other than "work in progress". A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical documents can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

Comments on this document are invited and should be sent to the public mailing list www-rdf-comments@w3.org. An archive of comments is available at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-rdf-comments/.

Table of contents


1. Introduction

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2. RDF overview

RDF is a data format for representing metadata about Web resources, and other information. It uses well established ideas from various data and knowledge representation communities, with recognizable relationships to Conceptual Graphs, logic-based knowedge representation, frames, and relational databases [Sowa,CG,KIF,Hayes,Luger,Gray].

RDF builds on XML, which provides a syntactic framework for representing documents and other information. It has a simple graph-based data model and formal semantics with a rigorously defined notion of entailment, which in turn provides a basis for well founded deductions in RDF data.

The real value of RDF comes not so much from any single application, but from the possibilities for sharing data between applications. The value of information thus increases as it becomes accessible to more and more applications across the entire Internet.

2.1 Motivation

The development of RDF has been motivated by the following uses, among others:

2.2 Design goals

The design of RDF is intended to meet the following goals:

2.2.1 A simple data model

RDF has a simple data model that is easy for applications to process and manipulate. The data model is independent of any specific serialization syntax.

NOTE: the term "model" used here in "data model" has a completely different sense to its use in the term "model theory". See the RDF model theory specification [RDF-SEMANTICS] or a textbook on logical semantics (e.g. [HUNTER,DAVIS]) for more information about what logicians call "model theory".

2.2.2 Formal semantics and well-founded inference

RDF has a formal semantics which provides a sound basis for reasoning about the meaning of an RDF expression. In particular, it supports rigorously defined notions of entailment which provide a basis for defining reliable rules of inference in RDF data.

2.2.3 Extensible URI-based vocabulary

The vocabulary is fully extensible, being based on URIs with optional fragment identifiers (URIrefs). URIrefs are used for naming all kinds of things in RDF data. The only other kind of label that appears in RDF data is a literal string.

2.2.4 XML-based syntax

RDF has an XML-based serialization form which, if used appropriately, allows a wide range of "ordinary" XML data to be interpreted as RDF [STRIPEDRDF].

2.2.5 Use XML schema datatypes

RDF can be used with XML schema datatypes [XML-SCHEMA2], thus assisting the exchange of information between RDF and other XML applications.

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2.2.6 Anyone can say anything about anything

To allow operation at Internet scale, RDF is an open-world framework that allows anyone to say anything about anything. In general, it is not assumed that all information about any topic is available. A consequence of this