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New W3C Rule Interchange Format (W3C RIF) standard published

2009-07-02 22:31

Rule based systems have been investigated comprehensively in the realms of declarative programming, expert systems, production rules, rule-based event/action logics and event-processing reaction rules over the last two decades. Using declarative rules has several advantages: reasoning with rules is based on a semantics of formal logic, usually a variation of first order predicate logic, and it is relatively easy for the end user to write rules. The basic idea is that users employ rules to express what they want, the responsibility to interpret this and to decide on how to do it is delegated to an interpreter (e.g., an inference rule engine or a just in time rule compiler). In recent years rule based technologies have experienced a remarkable comeback namely in two areas: business rules processing, and rule-based reasoning in the context of the Semantic Web.

For instance, early manifestations of business rule engines which have their roots in the realm of artificial intelligence and inference systems were complex, expensive to run and maintain and not very business-user friendly. Improved technology providing enhanced usability, scalability and performance, as well as less costly maintenance and better understanding of the underlying inference systems makes the current generation of business rule engines (BRE) and rules technology more usable for rrepresenting knowledge in a way that is understandable by "the business", but also executable by rule engines, thus bridging the gap between business and technology. This addresses an urgent need businesses do have nowadays: to change their business rules in order to adapt to a rapidly business environment, and to overcome the restricting nature of slow IT change cycles. Due to the innovations made possible by the Internet, the World Wide Web, and, most recently, the Semantic Web, there is now even greater opportunity for growth in this sector with huge impact on the future Internet and Web-based enterprise information systems

Rule Markup Languages (RuleML) will be the vehicle for using rules on the Web and in other distributed systems. They allow deploying, executing, publishing and communicating rules in a network. They may also play the role of a lingua franca for exchanging rules between different systems and tools. The main purposes of a rule markup language are to permit reuse, interchange and publication of rules used e.g., in a Corporate Semantic Web to represent business rules, semantic business process management, regulations, and policies.

2009 sees a major step forward for rules in enterprise service networks and on the Web. The W3C Rule Interchange Format (RIF) Working Group [1] has published several public specifications of the new W3C RIF standard. The OMG has published its specification for Production Rules Representation, which is being aligned with W3C's RIF. RuleML has published drafts on Reaction Rules for rule-based Complex Event Processing as a step towards a standardized event processing language for rules. People around the world are working on implementations of these specifications. In parallel, business rules are already playing an important role in Web Services and Business Process Management. How will new rules standards and current practice align?

The W3C Rule Interchange Format (RIF) Working Group [1] has published several public specifications for a new standardized Rule Interchange Format (W3C RIF) which is part of the latest W3C Semantic Web stack [2]. The mission of the Rule Interchange Format (RIF) Working Group is to produce W3C recommendations for rules interchange.

The RIF Working Group has published six Last Call Working Drafts. The Corporate Semantic Web [3] research group at the Freie Universitaet Berlin are actively involved in this standardization effort. Prof. Dr. Adrian Paschke, who leads the CSW group, has co-edited several of the W3C RIF specifications. Together, they allow systems using a variety of rule languages and rule-based technologies to interoperate with each other and with other Semantic Web technologies. Three of the drafts define XML formats with formal semantics for storing and transmitting rules:

The other drafts:

Furhter drafts, published in December 2008, are:

Currently, the Working Group requests comments to be sent to public-rif-comments@w3.org by 31 July 2009.


Next step will be the call for implementations. Upcoming RIF dialects, on which Corporate Semantic Web is currently working, will address a RIF Reaction Rules dialect for event-based reaction rules / rule-based complex event processing. Related standardization efforts such as the OMG Production Rules Representation (OMG PRR 1.1) [12], which defines a meta model for production rules, a currently looking into the possibility to adopt W3C RIF as concrete XML-based expression language.

The new RIF standard will be featured at the RuleML 2009 symposium [13] in a W3C RIF workshop in November 2009 (see http://2009.ruleml.org), co-located with the Business Rules Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. There will be a tutorial about RIF by Christian de Sainte Marie (ILOG/IBM, co-chair of the RIF WG) and a keynote by Sandro Hawke (W3C staff representative on the RIF WG) "W3C RIF - The Future of Rule Interchange". There will be also a joint BRF/RuleML lunch panel on Web rule standards, a business rules standards session, a event-driven reaction rules and rule-base CEP session, a keynote by Paul Vincent (TIBCO CTO for Business Rules and CEP, EPTS-RA WG Co-Chair) about "Why Rules Matter in Complex Event Processing... and vice versa", and a keynote by Donald Chapin (co-chair of the OMG Business Modeling & Integration Domain Task Force, co-chair OMG SBVR) about "Terminology: The Semantic Foundation for an Organization’s Executable Rules".

First implementations of RIF by IBM, Oracle, ILog, Corporate Semantic Web, have be already demonstrated in the 2nd Rules Challenge at RuleML-2008 [14]. Currently, RuleML-2009 [13] has an open call for demonstrations/case studies/benchmarks/best practice reports for the 3rd International Rules Challenge at RuleML-2009 [14] - explicitly calling for demonstrations of W3C RIF implementations.

Learn more about Rule Markup and Modeling Languages and Semantic Web Rule Languages, about the relations of W3C RIF to other rule languages such as SWRL, R2ML, Jena Rules, and about RIF as a sublanguage of the RuleML language family [15], in this book chapter, co-authored by Corporate Semantic Web -

Adrian Paschke, Harold Boley: Rule Markup Languages and Semantic Web Rule Languages, [16]
in Handbook of Research on Emerging Rule-Based Languages and Technologies: Open Solutions and Approaches
ISBN: 978-1-60566-402-6; 862 pp; May 2009
Published under Information Science Reference an imprint of IGI Global
available at:
http://www.igi-global.com/downloads/excerpts/34422.pdf

References:

[1] http://www.w3.org/2005/rules

[2] http://www.w3.org/2007/03/layerCake.png

[3] http://www.corporate-semantic-web.de

[4] http://www.w3.org/TR/rif-prd/

[5] http://www.w3.org/TR/rif-bld/

[6] http://www.w3.org/TR/rif-core/

[7] http://www.w3.org/TR/rif-dtb/

[8] http://www.w3.org/TR/rif-rdf-owl/

[9] http://www.w3.org/TR/rif-fld

[10] http://www.w3.org/2005/rules/wiki/UCR

[11] http://www.w3.org/2005/rules/wiki/Test

[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Production_Rule_Representation

[13] http://2009.ruleml.org/

[14] http://2008.ruleml.org/program.php

[15] http://ruleml.org/

[16] http://www.igi-global.com/downloads/excerpts/34422.pdf

Contacts:
Janine Glahn
Freie Universitaet Berlin
Department of Computer Science and Mathematics
Institute of Computer Science
Corporate Semantic Web
Königin-Luise-Straße 24/26
14195 Berlin
Phone: +49-30-838 75256
email:
glahn@inf.fu-berlin.de




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© 2008 FU Berlin | Feedback
This work has been partially supported by the  InnoProfile-Corporate Semantic Web project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the BMBF Innovation Initiative for the New German Länder - Entrepreneurial Regions.