Semantic Data Dictionaries

This work is probably pretty relevant to the goals of our group, so I thought I’d highlight it here. We are currently able to process entire datasets into RDF linked data using this approach.

The Semantic Data Dictionary – An Approach for Describing and Annotating Data

It is common practice for data providers to include text descriptions for each column when publishing data sets in the form of data dictionaries. While these documents are useful in helping an end-user properly interpret the meaning of a column in a data set, existing data dictionaries typically are not machine-readable and do not follow a common specification standard. We introduce the Semantic Data Dictionary, a specification that formalizes the assignment of a semantic representation of data, enabling standardization and harmonization across diverse data sets. In this paper, we present our Semantic Data Dictionary work in the context of our work with biomedical data; however, the approach can and has been used in a wide range of domains. The rendition of data in this form helps promote improved discovery, interoperability, reuse, traceability, and reproducibility. We present the associated research and describe how the Semantic Data Dictionary can help address existing limitations in the related literature. We discuss our approach, present an example by annotating portions of the publicly available National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data set, present modeling challenges, and describe the use of this approach in sponsored research, including our work on a large National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded exposure and health data portal and in the RPI-IBM collaborative Health Empowerment by Analytics, Learning, and Semantics project. We evaluate this work in comparison with traditional data dictionaries, mapping languages, and data integration tools.


Thanks for sharing, @Jamie_McCusker! What is a good way to ease into this from a practical perspective? Is there an alternative to reading through the article? I noticed a potential “demo” video (Demonstration) that does not load, and a tutorial (Tutorial) that may be helpful – about how long do you expect it to take for one to go through the tutorial? Do you recommend it?


I’m definitely going to check this out when I get time, thanks @Jamie_McCusker.

I managed to grab the tutorial video from YouTube (there is a typo in the jquery import on the web page, which is probably breaking the player).

A lot of that tutorial is outdated. There’s a python package called sdd2rdf that adds a command called ‘sdd2setl’ that’s much improved over what was published in the paper. In terms of actual concepts the paper itself is probably the best starting point. We will be giving a tutorial on using this and visualization tools in Whyis at the Knowledge Graph Conference on 5/4.