Defining N-ary Relations on the Semantic Web

Natalya Fridman Noy, Alan Rector

Natalya Fridman Noy, Alan Rector, Defining N-ary Relations on the Semantic Web, World Wide Web Consortium, Note NOTE-swbp-n-aryRelations-20060412, April 2006.

In Semantic Web languages, such as RDF and OWL, a property is a binary relation: it is used to link two individuals or an individual and a value. However, in some cases, the natural and convenient way to represent certain concepts is to use relations to link an individual to more than just one individual or value. These relations are called n-ary relations. For example, we may want to represent properties of a relation, such as our certainty about it, severity or strength of a relation, relevance of a relation, and so on. Another example is representing relations among multiple individuals, such as a buyer, a seller, and an object that was bought when describing a purchase of a book. This document presents ontology patterns for representing n-ary relations in RDF and OWL and discusses what users must consider when choosing these patterns.


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