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Ontology-Based Reasoning for Supporting Context-Aware Services on Autonomic Networks
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. C. Jordi Girona 1-3, 08034, Barcelona, Spain. {jmserrano; serrat}@tsc.upc.edu 2 Motorola Labs, 1301 East Algonquin Road, Mail Stop IL02-2240, Schaumburg, IL 60010 USA {john.strassner@motorola.com } Abstract - Ontology engineering has been proposed as a formal mechanism for both reducing the complexity of managing the information needed in network management and autonomic systems and for increase the portability of the services across homogeneous and heterogeneous networks. In this paper we propose an ontology for supporting the creation, delivery and management of context-aware services and also for the integration of the user’s context information in service management operations for heterogeneous networks. This ontology provides formal semantics that capture concepts of context information for helping in the service management operations and also augments the information model for adding domain-specific user’s context data. Using this ontology, we have created a “knowledge plane” that supports the reasoning needed by autonomic networks. We have studied the use of ontology autonomic elements for gathering raw context and integrating it to improve and/or enhance the user’s context representation. Finally, we provide a study and analysis for ensuring the efficient handling and dissemination of context information to overlay applications in autonomic environments for self-managing or self-configuring service operations. Keywords-Context Information, Context-Awareness, Ontology, Ontology-based Integration, Context-Aware Systems, Pervasive Computing, Autonomic Computing, Autonomic Networks.

J. Martín Serrano1; Joan Serrat1; John Strassner2

1. Introduction
Information technology advances and the evolution in communication services towards mobility demand the integration of information in heterogeneous, distributed technologies and systems. Context-awareness plays an important role in next generation networks and communications systems which, since the incorporation of the mobility concept to communications systems, have required the development of extensible context models that enable the efficient representation for handling and distribution of the information in the information systems. Interoperability of the information systems is synonymous with cross-layer interaction, involving both the communication capabilities of the devices and the elementary services of the middleware environment. When we talk about information interoperability, we refer to scenarios with a mixture of technologies; these scenarios have many systems and devices, and consequently different techniques and mechanisms for generating and sharing information. In each one of these scenarios, the data models that the information systems use are different, prohibiting the sharing and reuse of vital information. Hence, the way to achieve the efficient and

clear interaction between the systems is first, creating an information model that defines critical concepts in a technology neutral form, and then deriving data models from this information model that support the free exchange of knowledge [1][2]. The challenge is to promote information interoperability in the systems combining network technologies, middleware, and Internet facilities, to create an environment where the information between the devices and the applications and their services is always available. In this sense, Ontology Engineering has been proven as a formal mechanism for solving problems in meaning and understanding. Today, most proposals for context representation ignore the importance of the relationships between context data and communication networks. We propose an ontology for creation, delivery and management of context-aware services, and also for integration of user’s context information in service management operations (CONAN). CONAN is inspired from the EU IST-Context project and also is being addressing towards the research activity in the autonomic computing management area [1][3]. The synergy obtained between context-awareness, ontologies and autonomic networking promotes the definition of a new, extensible, and scalable knowledge platform for the integration of context information and services support. Our approach defines a set of dialects and/or patois following a formal lexicon defined in OWL; this can be used to support the integration of context information in service management operations, policy-based systems and atonomic networks, as figure 1 shows. This is an innovative aspect of our research work and part of our contributions in the information technologies (IT) area.

Figure 1. Ontology Vocabulary for CONTEXT in Autonomic Networks

1-4244-0353-7/07/$25.00 ©2007 IEEE
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This paper is organized as follow: Section 2 describes the most important issues related to ontology-based principles. In section 3, we review ontology as a set of semantic and knowledge-based representation tools for context information; then, in section 4, we describe the design requirements for our ontology for the creation, delivery and management of context-aware services supported by autonomic networks (CONAN), and show how the ontology can be used in autonomic elements for gathering raw context and integrating this context information into a higher abstraction for management service operations. Section 5 presents the most compelling contributions on ontologies for context modelling using ontologies, and finally the concluding remarks are presented in Section 6.

all use a formal language to describe contextual data in a common way. Not all the ontologies are built using the same structure. In fact, a number of possible languages can be used, e.g., Ontolingua (this uses an internal language, KIF [5], and provides an integrated environment to create and manage ontologies); other languages include KL-ONE, CLASSIC and LOOM. The Open Knowledge Base Connectivity (OKBC) model and languages like KIF-Knowledge Interchange Format and CL-Common Logic are examples that have become the bases of other ontology languages. There are also languages based on a form of logic thought to be especially computable known as description logics, for instance DAML+OIL. Today, the most common exemplar for a service definition language is without doubt the semantic web. The huge quantity of information on the Web emphasized the need to have a common lexicon, which in turn raised interest in using ontologies. The Semantic Web gave rise to a new family of languages, including RDF and the Web Ontology Language (OWL) standard. Both are integral parts of the SemanticWeb, and the latter is a W3C recommendation. OWL comes with three variations (OWL Full, OWL DL and OWL Lite), each one with own properties that provide different levels of expressiveness for sharing knowledge. This in turn was the basis for new variations: OWL–Flight focused in LP (Logic programming) framework [6]; Ongoing work is proceeding on integrating rules in ontology inspired by some OWL modelling weaknesses; the building of new languages on top of OWL for specific applications like OWL–S (OWL for Webservices) is now accelerating. Ontology as an Operational Mechanism Ontologies are used to describe and establish semantic commitments about a well-known domain for a set of agents with the objective that they can communicate without complicated translation operations into a global group [7][8]. The idea of semantic commitment [4][9] is a function that links terms of the ontology vocabulary with a conceptualization. In particular, it enables the system to communicate about a domain of discourse without necessarily operating on a globally shared theory. Knowledge is attributed to agents who don’t need to know where the commitments were done, just what they are and how to use them; an agent "knows" something if it acts as if it had the information and is acting rationally to achieve its goals. Then, we can define conditions that agents can use to operate with "actions" of the agents; this can be seen as a functional interface to tell the agents how to operate for sharing, reuse, verification and reasoning. Ontologies allow the exchange of information between applications at the same and/or different levels of abstractions; this is an important goal, and provides operational advantages for the user of services and applications. The semantic commitments defined in the ontologies are used to delineate in each case the knowledge that can be shared with agents that commit to

2. Ontology-Based Principles
Ontology is a formal mechanism for representation of a conceptualization in a shared domain [4]. Ontology is a description (like a specification of a program in a formal language) of the concepts and relationships that can exist for an entity or a community of entities. Put another way, ontology is a systematic explanation of the existence of an entity using a formal representation.. An ontology must be explicit, formal and open. Explicit means that the entities and relationships used, and the constraints on their use, are precisely and unambiguously defined in a declarative language suitable for knowledge representation. Formal refers to the fact that the ontology should be representable in a formal grammar. Open means that all users of an ontology will represent a concept using the same or equivalent set of entities and relationships. However, ontology is not only for knowledge representation. For example, multiple researchers show many advantages of using ontologies in the IT area, such as for capturing, defining, sharing, and reusing knowledge, along with verifiying the correctness of knowledge and being able to reason about an event using the stored knowledge of the ontology. 2.1. Semantic & knowledge-based representation tools Ontology as a mechanism for helping systems to represent knowledge has a large number of example applications; the following sections represent some of the most important applications. Ontology as a Specification Mechanism Pragmatically, ontology defines the lexicon that a language uses to define the set of queries, commands, and assertions that are available. The language represents an agreement to use the shared vocabulary in a coherent and consistent manner. Hence, the first and most basic activity that can be done with ontologies is the definition of knowledge that can be retrieved. This includes things, objects, activities, and other entities of interest, including events that have occurred in the environment of the system. This enables sensor elements, such as agents, to

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the ontologies. Likewise, the ontologies provide the semantic structures necessary to allow gathering, managing and storing efficiently the context information in the services and applications.

storage formats, such as OWL, RDF Schemas, XML and HTML, etc.

3. CONAN: CONTEXT Ontology Supporting CAS on Autonomic Networks
In this section we present the ontology for creation, delivery and management of context-aware services supported by autonomic networks (CONAN). 3.1. Domain and Scope Definition We build upon and extend the entity model for modelling context in context-aware services from the EU IST-CONTEXT project, using ontologies as a formal mechanism to integrate both the context information and the policy-based services management system. The synergy obtained in this process results in our novel ontology for integration of context information, extensible and interoperable, for services in autonomic networks, under the umbrella of the programmable, adaptive technology inherent in autonomic networks. 3.2. Classes and Class Hierarchy Definition In business support systems, applications and services are usually organised into administrative domains. As a result of the dynamic nature of context, and following previous research work [17], we have identified that person, place, task and object are the most fundamental contextual data required for representing and capturing the notion of context in the ontology. Figure 2 shows the CONAN upper level ontology. The ontology is structured as a set of abstract classes describing a physical or virtual object in the service domain with attributes and relationships. 3.3. Capture Currently, there has been an expansive use of XML in different stages of knowledge capture, as well as to abstractions for formalizing the knowledge. It is in this context that we use the XML Language to represent the context information model. Using this language has several advantages: a) XML is a mark-up language for documents containing structured information, but can also be used as a mechanism to exchange and store data; b) DTDs (Document Type Definition) and XSDs (XML Schema Definition) can be used to validate the documents created automatically when representing the context information; we have implemented a JAVA program for this as well as for creating and maintaining XML documents; c) the use of XQuery to find specific context information inside the XML documents that contain all the information related to a specific entity provides powerful searching capability. We have chosen Protégé as our ontology editor. We use it to construct ontologies, customize data entry forms, and enter data. It is also a platform which can be easily used to include graphical components (graphs, tables) and offer
Figure 2. CONAN Upper Ontology Representation.

3.4. Coding Currently, the biggest ontology driver is the Semantic Web. Software tools are available to accomplish most aspects of ontology development. While ontology editors are useful during each step outlined above, other types of ontology building tools are also needed along the way. Development projects often involve solutions using numerous ontologies from external sources as well as existing and newly developed in-house ontologies. Ontologies from any source may progress through a series of versions. In the end, careful management of this collection of heterogeneous ontologies becomes necessary to keep track of them. Tools also help to map and link between them, compare them, reconcile and validate them, merge them, and convert them into other forms. Other tools can help acquire, organize, and visualize the domain knowledge before and during the building of a formal ontology derived from or transformed into forms such as W3C XML Schemas, database schemas, and UML, to achieve integration with associated enterprise applications. Our proposal is founded on the OWL Ontology Language. Figure 4 shows part of the OWL Ontology represented in XML, as an example of the multiple contents supported by Protégé for representing, editing, and managing ontologies. The objective of integrating and harmonising this work in XML is to create an extensible context information model, augmented with ontological data, that is usable by the semantic web for better supporting web services. This is part of our future research.

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<!DOCTYPE owl [ <!ENTITY CONANModel "http://nmg.upc.edu/ontologies/1.0/CONANModel#"> <!ENTITY xsd "http://nmg.upc.edu/ontologies/1.0/XMLSchema#"> <!ENTITY owl "http://nmg.upc.edu/ontologies/1.0/owl#"> ]> <rdf:RDF xmlns:owl =http://nmg.upc.edu/ontologies/1.0/owl# xmlns:rdf ="http://nmg.upc.edu/ontologies/1.0/01-rdf-syntax-ns#" xmlns:rdfs=http://nmg.upc.edu/ontologies/1.0/rdf-schema# xmlns:xsd ="&xsd;“ xmlns ="&CONANModel;“ xml:base ="http://nmg.upc.edu/ontologies/1.0/CONANModel" > <owl:Ontology rdf:about="http://nmg.upc.edu/ontologies/1.0/CONANModel"> <rdfs:comment> An ontology for Integration of Context in Network Operations and Business Support Systems. </rdfs:comment> <owl:versionInfo>1.0</owl:versionInfo> </owl:Ontology> <!– CONAN Ontology: this ontology attempts to capture vocabuaries and concepts that often used when context-aware services are created, delivered and managed and they are operated on Autonomic networks. Author: Martin Serrano CVS Version: $Revision: 1.00 $, $Date: 2006/09/05 22:05:18 $ --> <owl:Class rdf:ID="Person"> <owl:unionOf rdf:parseType="Collection"> <owl:Class rdf:about="#AtomicObject"/> <owl:Class rdf:about="#CompoundObject"/> </owl:unionOf> <rdfs:subClassOf> <owl:Restriction> <owl:onProperty rdf:resource="#object"/> <owl:object>1</owl:object> </owl:Restriction> </rdfs:subClassOf> <rdfs:subClassOf> <owl:Restriction> <owl:onProperty rdf:resource="#device"/> <owl:device>1</owl:device> </owl:Restriction> </rdfs:subClassOf> <rdfs:subClassOf> <owl:Restriction> <owl:onProperty rdf:resource="#application"/> <owl:application>1</owl:application> </owl:Restriction> </rdfs:subClassOf> </owl:Class>

ontology-based managers, which are internal components in autonomic elements [1][10], as ontology-based reasoners. The following application testbed is proposed as a feasible verification and validation scenario for autonomic elements using the CONAN ontology and supporting context-aware services. The use of the context information in autonomic elements has two main advantages. The first and most common is for checking the consistency of the context data; the second and more important is the reasoning for deducing implicit context from low-level context information. To understand the importance of these two main advantages, we consider a scenario where a user wants to create a communication service in a businessoriented system supported by a policy-role platform that uses context information to customize the service according with the user’s context.

Figure 3. OWL CONAN Ontology Example.

3.5. Integration Reuse of existing ontologies is a task that ontology development must anticipate. Indeed, it is this feature that will speed up the development of new extensible and powerful ontologies in the future. The integration of ontologies is an important task in the ontology development area; however, this issue is out of scope of this paper. We are considering this for future research. 3.6. Evaluation The evaluation of an ontology involves the syntactic revision for logical and semantic inconsistencies, as well as ensuring that all semantic relationships are present and make sense. Exposing the ontology to subject-matter experts in the area of concern, as well as in other related domains, is always the best way to determine if the ontology is complete and extensible. We employ formal versioning control of the ontology to support this. In this section we present results from ongoing work with autonomic elements for supporting the creation, delivery and management of context-aware services. A set of syntactical lines for ontology-based reasoning policies as examples of the reasoning mechanism will be shown, including a brief description of the scenario. We use

Figure 4. Autonomic Elements as Ontology Reasoners.

In the scenario shown in Figure 4, each autonomic element is in charged with managing its entire context; this involves keeping the context information updates, and in particular detecting variations. For example, an autonomic element in charge of service authoring will be responsible for updating all contextual user information, and an ontology manager in charge of service maintenance at the network layer will be responsible for contextual network information that affects the user. Next generation network scenarios ask different networks, technologies and business rules to cooperate in interacting with each other. This greatly increases the complexity in managing activities and operations, which in turn require increased computational power. Hence, the desired performance of the systems and the services they supply cannot be supported with existing systems. In this sense, autonomic elements using ontology reasoning can help to manage the multiplicity of technologies and diversity of systems in order to handle contextual problems locally; this frees system resources to make decisions for higher-level functions, such as planning and service optimization.

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Reasoning Mechanism for Autonomic Elements The ontology reasoning tasks in our research use description logic; this provides a compelling human interaction and, by efficiency reasons, fulfill the important logical requirements expressed by policies. We have chosen ontology reasoning as a decisionmaking mechanism due to its high usefulness in multiple aspects of context-aware computing, and by the strong policy-driven relationship with user-centric services. For example, when explicit context is acquired from context sources or sensors directly and, based on that raw context it is also possible to derive implicit context, additional information is deduced from explicit context to customize a user’s service. For example, table 1 shows examples of the policies governing ontology reasoning in the scenario describe previously in this paper, where explicit context information is acquired and then as result of a context composition activity, additional information is deduced.
Table 1. Ontology-Based Reasoning Policies
Explicit Context Representation <owl:ObjectValue rdf:ID="locatedIn"> <rdfs:comment=owlTransitiveProperty”/> <owl:inverseOf rdf:resource=”#position”/> <Person rdf:ID=”User001”> <locatedIn rdf:resource=#Office”/> </Person> <Task rdf:Date=”Scheduled”> <scheduledAt rdf:resource=”#05122006/> </Task> Deduced Context Representation <owl:Person rdf:ID="User001"> <locatedIn rdf:resource=”#Office”/> <Deduced rdf:ID=”Office” > <locatedIn rdf:resource=#User001”/> </Deduced> <Object rdf:Meeting=”Service”> <contains rdf:resources=”#MPLSTunnel”/> </Object> Reasoning Policies Examples If (userOf: Service001) & (locatedIn: Office) Then (StartService001) If (locatedIn: Office) & (Scheduled: Meeting) Then (MPLSTunnel) If (aServiceAt: Office) & (userOf: Date) Then (StopService001) or If (userOf: Service002) & (Scheduled: Date) Then (StopService001) If (userOf: Service002) & (locatedIn: Home) Then (StartService002) If (userOf: Service003) & (Scheduled: Meeting) & (locatedIn: Home) Then (CreateVPN)

programmable nodes of an overlay network for supporting autonomic systems. The task of the programmable layer is to provide a uniform, open, modular executing environment to support the logic of the services and the autonomic elements functionality. The work of this paper formalizes the context information model using by augmenting the information model with ontological data. It is based on a nondependent network architecture developed in the framework of the IST-CONTEXT project [3], following the proof of concept principles from autonomic networks. Ontology Details Supporting Scenario For the described scenario, the user’s context information, along with the context information from the networks being used, is used to customize services and resources that control the deployment of those services. The activity of composing the context is relegated to the autonomic elements. The context-aware service becomes more efficient at the time of service customization because the autonomic elements are better able to detect the exact nature of context changes and hence, are able to reduce the signaling required in the network. Figure 5 shows a specific definition for the low-level domain scenario. A set of general classes and sub-classes from the CONAN ontology are defined to capture and represent the explicit and deduced context information in the scenario described to support context-aware services.

The main issue in the design of autonomic elements is the representation and maintenance of knowledge to facilitate the establishment of - relations between input data and root causes. - relations between output actions and effects, and - policies constraining acceptable and desirable action with the objective to facilitate the exchange of information. This information is converted to more general knowledge, and is often represented in rules which the autonomic systems can manage more easily. Deployment of Ontology Reasoners The autonomic element containing the core ontology manager must not be technology dependent; otherwise, this limits its usage to entities that understand and speak that technology. Therefore, we have used programmable technology for this purpose. Autonomic elements can be deployed within service sessions running in

Figure 5. Ontology for a specific low-level domain scenario.

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The testbed for the scenario consists of the following components: • VPN server and Programmable Nodes: These devices are the endpoints of the VPNs, and are used to deduce context. It simulates autonomic elements with ontology-based reasoners for context composition. • User's Portal: This is the IP/Mobile terminal, which connects to users using a VPN for customizing services; it is also used to observe and retrieve data describing the user’s context information. • Management Station: This simulates a context information data service provider and contains the policies and context database as well management applications for the entire system (autonomic system environment).

The main advantage of using an ontology-based autonomic element approach is the isolation achieved between explicit context and implicit context information. This enables more accurate reasoning to be done, since different weights can be assigned on implicit vs. explicit context information. Our future work will concentrate on creating an extensible context information model, augmented with ontological data, that is usable by the semantic web for better supporting web services.

This paper refers partially to research work developed in the EU-IST Context project and act as an extension research work towards ontology-based context information modelling, which involves architectures for supporting context-aware services. This research activity is co-funded by Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia under the project TSI2005-06413. Thank you to all the colleagues that helped in the realisation/editing of this paper.

4. Related Works
Some approaches are presented here that pointing out to reduce complexity and improve quality of service through the advancement of self-managing capabilities. A project for simplifying large scale creation and management for grid applications is Optimal, IBM [11]. Another approach that is more customer-oriented is the Adaptive Enterprise, HP [12]; this system helps customers to build a layered system. (Business, service and resource). An approach for self-administered database systems is AutoAdmin, Microsoft [13]. An interesting and probably more integral approach for managing data centers by including resource virtualization, service provisioning and policy automation techniques is N1, Sun [14]. A global persistent data store for scaling to billions of users is OceanStore, UC Berkeley [15]. An application for providing the applications developers with all the tools required to specify the appropriate control and management schemes to maintain any quality of service requirements is Autonomia, University of Arizona [16]. However one of the most interesting projects is eBiquity, University of Baltimore County [17]. It explores the interactions between mobile, pervasive computing, multi-agent systems and artificial intelligence techniques integrating different patois used in technology and software areas.

[1] Strassner, J. and Kephart, J., Autonomic Networks and Systems: Theory and Practice, Network Operation Management Simposium. NOMS 06 Tutorial, April 2006. [2] Strassner, J., “Policy-Based Network Management”, Morgan Kaufman Publishers, Sep 2003, ISBN 1-55860859-1 [3] CONTEXT Project, IST-EU Active Creation, Deliver and Management of Context Aware Services. http://context.upc.es/ [4] Gruber. T. R. “A translation approach to portable ontologies”. Knowledge Acquisition, 5(2):199-220, 1993. [5] Genesereth, M. Knowledge Interchange Format In J. Allenet & others (Eds.), 1991 [6] De Bruijn, Jose, Fensel, Dieter. Lara, Rubén. Polleres, Axel. OWL DL vs. OWL Flight: Conceptual Modelling and Reasoning for the Semantic Web; November. 2004. [7] Gruber. T. R. Toward principles for the design of ontologies used for knowledge sharing. Presented at the Padua workshop on Formal Ontology, March 1993. [8] Neches, Robert. Fikes, Richard. Finin, Tim. Patil, Ramesh. Senator, ted. Swartout, William R. Enabling technology For Knowledge Sharing. AI Magazine, Vol.12, (3), 1991. [9] Guarino, N., “Formal Ontology in Information Systems”, First International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems, N. Guarino (ed.), Trento, Italy [10] Strassner, J., “FOCALE – A Novel Autonomic Computing Architecture”, LAACS 2006, July, 2006. [11] Optimal grid Project, IBM. http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/optimalgrid/ [12] Murch, R. Autonomic Computing Ed. Prentice Hall, 2004. [13] Autoadmin Project, Microsoft Corporation. http://www.research.microsoft.com/dmx/autoadmin/ [14] N1 Project, Sun Microsystems. http://www.sun.com/software/n1gridsystem/ [15] Oceanstore Project, UC Berkeley. http://oceanstore.cs.berkeley.edu [16] Dong, X. and et al. Autonomia: An autonomic Computing Environment. In proceeding of IEEE Int. Conference on performance, Computing and Communications (IPCC), pages 61-68, April 2003. [17] Ebiquity Project, University of Baltimore County http://ebiquity.umbc.edu

5. Conclusions and Further Work
Currently, we have explored the use of ontologies for various parts of the ontology-based manager. We have used OWL classes for specifying and defining the states that manage the context information of the system, which is then used for defining finite state machine definitions for the context information service adaptive behaviour. Decision activities related to autonomic elements in the autonomic networks for supporting context-aware services should be coordinated by a trustworthy ontologybased autonomic manager, one that is well known by the autonomic elements. This can be achieved by using a secure discovery protocol. This enables trust decisions to be made based on the activity of ontology reasoners.

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