Interview mit Prof. Dr. Harald Sack

Anlässlich der im September 2018 in Wien stattfindenden Konferenz SEMANTICS führte Frau Julia Holze von der Universität Leipzig ein Interview mit Prof. Dr. Harald Sack. Hierin spricht der Professor über die Anwendungen semantischen Technologien, über die Vorteile von Open Data und die sogenannte #CoffeeChallenge.



1) You have been working on many areas of research (semantic web technologies, knowledge representations, multimedia analysis & retrieval). What will shape our future the most?

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”, as physicist Niels Bohr is quoted to have said. One thing for sure will change the world as we know it today, and this is the rise of autonomous systems. I would expect major progress in the synthesis of symbolic logic as for (explicit) knowledge representation in combination with (implicit) deep neural networks. This development will lead to autonomous systems that learn while interacting with their environment, that are able to generalize, to draw deductions, and to adapt to new, previously unknown situations.



2) What are your research areas? How do they contribute to the advancement of SemTech?

In particular my research is focused on the application of semantic technologies in combination with machine learning for information extraction, semantic analysis, as well as for semantic and exploratory search in information systems. One of my favourite application areas is exploratory search, i.e. searching where you don’t know exactly where the search process might lead you to. Sometimes you might not be able to explicitly phrase your search intention. Probably because you lack the vocabulary or you might not be an expert in the domain in which you are looking for information. Then, first you have to gather information about your domain before you might be able to perform pinpoint retrieval. This process can be supported by intelligent recommender systems, extending your scope, leading you through the vast search space on dedicated paths towards your preferred direction. This is something that current search engines are not capable of.



3) You are very passionate about open data and open software. And you are an active member of the DBpedia Board and the German DBpedia Chapter. Where do you see the intersections of open data and linked data?

To obtain maximum benefit of linked data, data has to be linked to other data, i.e. other data must also be able to link to your data. This is easily achieved, as long as data is provided as open data. Proprietary data can of course also be linked to other data, but how should I know that it is there and that it would also benefit from being externally linked and reused. However, I know that data also might be an asset and therefore your business case demands your data to be proprietary. Nevertheless, in research we should demand to keep our research data open to ensure reproducibility of our research results. Otherwise, research progress will be limited.



3+1) What are your expectations about Semantics 2018 in Vienna and the DBpedia Community Meeting? And what is the story about your #CoffeeChallenges? Please enlighten us… [+1] Will there be a revival at SEMANTiCS 2018 in Vienna – the city of coffee?

I am looking forward to SEMANTiCS 2018, since I really appreciate the concept of the conference to bring together industry driven research and applications with the academic research community. Like other academic researchers, I also have a second foothold in industry as co-founder and one of the CEOs of yovisto, a company exploiting semantic analysis and search technology. For the upcoming DBpedia community meeting, I hope that we will be able to announce the successful relocation of the German DBpedia servers from Berlin to Karlsruhe. Concerning the #CoffeeChallenge, again I am looking forward to revisit Vienna as being one of the coffee capitals of the western world. Let’s keep fingers crossed that this year’s conference organisers are able to provide decent coffee. However, we will be in Vienna and I am sure that we will find some excellent coffee. ;-)