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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.
The development of RDF has been motivated by the following uses, among others:
The design of RDF is intended to meet the following goals:
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".
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.
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.
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].
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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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