OKBC: A Programmatic Foundation for Knowledge Base Interoperability

Vinay K. Chaudhri, Adam Farquhar, Richard Fikes, Peter D. Karp, James P. Rice

The technology for building large knowledge bases (KBs) is yet to witness a breakthrough so that a KB can be constructed by the assembly of prefabricated knowledge components. Knowledge components include both pieces of domain knowledge (for example, theories of economics or fault diagnosis) and KB tools (for example, editors and theorem provers). Most of the current KB development tools can only manipulate knowledge residing in the knowledge representation system (KRS) for which the tools were originally developed. Open Knowledge Base Connectivity (OKBC) is an application programming interface for accessing KRSs, and was developed to enable the construction of reusable KB tools. OKBC improves upon its predecessor, the Generic Frame Protocol (GFP), in several significant ways. OKBC can be used with a much larger range of systems because its knowledge model supports an assertional view of a KRS. OKBC provides an explicit treatment of entities that are not frames, and it has a much better way of controlling inference and specifying default values. OKBC can be used on practically any platform because it supports network transparency and has implementations for multiple programming languages. In this paper, we discuss technical design issues faced in the development of OKBC, highlight how OKBC improves upon GFP, and report on practical experiences in using it.

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