NUI Galway Researcher Wins Top Prize in International Web Challenge

Friday, 3 September 2010

A researcher at NUI Galway's Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) has won the first prize at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Mashup Challenge, which seeks technologies that combine existing web resources into a new and useful service. Dr Alexandre Passant, Postdoctoral Researcher and unit leader at DERI, developed and built an innovative web-based music recommendation system* called dbrec. The core new feature of dbrec is its capability to explain recommendations to its users, in that with a simple click of a mouse a user can understand why particular information is related to others in the search, for example, two artists may be linked by the fact that they are in the same music genre or perhaps that they both play guitar and are on the same recording label. dbrec relies on DBpedia, a structure version of Wikipedia, to compute the recommendations and makes them available using Web standards so that new applications can be built on top of it. The linkages between search items are made possible by using Semantic Web and Linked Data technologies, two major trends regarding the evolution of the Web, that are actively researched in DERI within various national and international projects as well as standardisation activities. The Semantic Web is largely concerned with improving connections in the World Wide Web to make more sense of the data that is published online. Award winner Dr Alexandre Passant explains: "dbrec shows the new and exciting possibilities offered by Semantic Web and Linked Data in terms of open recommendations systems and explanatory user-interfaces. It also demonstrates the value of Linked Data to build mash-up applications and how to make use of structured information using Web standards". The AI mashup prize was awarded at the closing ceremony of the Extended Semantic Web Conference 2010 by Elsevier, a leading publisher in science and health information, following a demonstration during a public session at the conference, and this first prize is the result of the votes from the attendees. DERI's impact on Semantic Web and Linked Data was demonstrated further at the conference when Dr Passant picked up a second award in the Semantic Web Scripting Challenge for sparqlPuSH, awarded by Talis, which was collaborative work between Dr Passant and members of the Kno.e.sis Center at Wright State University, Ohio. sparqlPuSH provides an infrastructure for real-time information monitoring on the Semantic Web, and can consequently be used in scenarios such as emergency management. Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI at NUI Galway, said: "These recent prizes provide further confirmation of the high quality of research at this University and in Ireland, leading to innovative products and services".
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