George Mason University
School of Engineering
Department of Computer Science


CS 499 Knowledge Engineering for the Semantic Web


Meeting time: Monday 4:30 pm – 7:10 pm
Meeting location: Art and Design Building 2003


Instructor: Dr. Gheorghe Tecuci, Professor of Computer Science

Office hours: Monday 7:15 pm – 8:05 pm and Wednesday 7:15 pm – 8:05 pm
Office: Nguyen Engineering Building, Learning Agents Center, Room 4613
: 703 993 1722
tecuci at gmu dot edu


Course Description

Prerequisite: 60 credits and C or better in CS 310 and CS 330


Due to the development of the World Wide Web (WWW), virtually any information about any subject that exists almost anywhere on the planet is available at our fingertips. This has significantly improved the way we conduct business and share information, but it has also led to the problem of information overload where the amount of information we have is too vast to manage and to allow us to know what we know. The Semantic Web is the evolution of the current WWW that responds to this problem. In this emerging (Semantic) Web, the content is represented in an expanded form to be understood not only by humans, but also by software agents, permitting them to find, integrate, process, and share information.


This course teaches existing Semantic Web technologies and their applications, providing you knowledge and skills that will be very valuable in your career. It covers the basic concepts, principles, methods, architectures, and tools for the design and development of intelligent Semantic Web applications, including semantic modeling, ontology languages (RDF, RDFS, OWL), querying the semantic web (SPARQL), inferencing in the Semantic Web, managing vocabularies (SKOS), semantic markup, the publication and consumption of Linked Data, and Semantic Web application architectures. It also covers major applications of these semantic technologies, such as FOAF, semantic wiki, semantic browsers, semantic search engines, DBpedia, Rich Snippets from Google, and SearchMonkey from Yahoo! The learning of concepts, principles and methods will be enhanced by the practice of using several open source tools, including the Protégé ontology development environment. An important part of the course is the development of a project in an area of your interest, involving outside study and an oral presentation to the class.


This course will use Blackboard (see to post lecture notes, papers, assignments, and grades. Students have accounts on Blackboard and can download the PDF files by going to and logging in using their Mason ID and passwords.



·         Understanding of the Semantic Web concepts and principles.

·         Knowledge of the ontology languages RDF, RDFS, and OWL, and ability to design and develop semantic web ontological models.

·         Knowledge of the query language SPARQL and ability to author SPARQL queries.

·         Knowledge of the main Semantic Web applications.

·         Ability to use Semantic Web tools.

·         Ability to conduct independent study of a Semantic Web topic and present it to the class.

·         Ability to design and develop Semantic Web applications.


Grading Policy

Class participation and assignments: 20%

Mid-term exam: 25%

Project: 25%

Final exam: 30%


Exam Dates

Mid-term exam: Monday March 18th, 4:30pm

Final exam: Monday May 13th, 4:30pm


Main Readings


·         Allemang D. and Hendler J., Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist: Modeling in RDF, RDFS and OWL, Morgan Kaufman, 2011. Electronic resource available from the GMU library at


·         Yu L., A Developer’s Guide to the Semantic Web, Springer-Verlag, 2011. Electronic resource available from the GMU library. On-campus link: Off-campus link:


Other Useful Texts


·         Hitzler P., Krotzsch M., Rudolph S., Foundations of Semantic Web Technologies, CRC Press, 2010.


·         Heath T. and Bizer C., Linked Data: Evolving the Web into a Global Data Space, Morgan & Claypool Publishers, 2011, Electronic resource available from the GMU library at


·         Antoniou G. and Harmelen, van F., A Semantic Web Primer, The MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 2008, Electronic resource available from the GMU library at   


·         Breitman K.K., Casanova M.A. and Truszkowski W., Semantic Web: Concepts, Technologies and Applications, Springer-Verlag London Limited 2007, Electronic resource available from the GMU library at


·         Other papers recommended by the instructor.


Email Communication

1. Please include CS499 in the subject of any message you are emailing to Dr. Tecuci.

2. Please try to limit the size of the files you are emailing.


GMU Email Accounts

Students must activate their GMU email accounts to receive important University information, including messages related to this class.


Office of Disability Services

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS.


Other Useful Campus Resources

Writing Center: A114 Robinson Hall; (703) 993-1200;

University Libraries “Ask a Librarian”

Counseling And Psychological Services (CAPS): (703) 993-2380;


University Policies

The University Catalog,, is the central resource for university policies affecting student, faculty, and staff conduct in university affairs.


Honor Code

You are expected to abide by the GMU honor code. Information on the university honor code can be found at

Additional departmental CS information: