Author: Pascal Hitzler, Markus Krötzsch & Sebastian Rudolph
Publisher: CRC Press, 2010
Aimed at: Textbook for use in academic environment
Pros: For an academic book is fairly approachable
Cons: Obfuscates an already difficult topic
Reviewed by: Mike James
This book is in the series Textbooks in Computing and has to be evaluated as such.
What you think of this book depends very much on what you are expecting.
As an academic book it is written in a fairly approachable style and it covers the topic fairly completely.
However the topic of the semantic web is also a very practical and of concern to non-academic programmers. There are also lots of non-academic books that introduced the ideas and provide good examples of how it all works. If you aren't expecting an academic book then you are going to be very disappointed - perhaps even angry enough to return the book for a refund!
It is actually quite interesting to compare the approaches of this academic title on a topic with the other more mainstream accounts. The style of writing in this book is amazingly formulaic and constrained. The whole point of the academic style is to make the simple sound clever and complex.
In this case though there is also a need to communicate as the book isn't a research monograph but an introduction to the topic. You can almost feel some of the authors straining to write in a more accessible style - sadly they fail!
The book covers RDF including a chapter presenting the formal semantics. The second section of the book presents OWL - a simple introduction followed by formal semantics. Then Part III deals with rules and queries, specifically SPARQL. The final part deals with advanced topics , Ontology Engineering and then a chapter on applications.
What is amazing is that for a book that takes such an academic approach is that there appendices on XML, Set theory and logic. If you need the appendices don't bother even thinking about getting a copy of this book.
So what is the final verdict?
If this was an academic book on a completely academic subject then it would get a slightly more favourable review because as an academic book it tends toward the more readable end of the spectrum....but it's is an introductory text in direct competition with other more accessible introductory texts.
What purpose then can be served by dressing up ideas which already have a tendency to attract academic terminology in even more academic language - none at all...
The only possible reason for preferring this book is if you have to look credible in an academic environment.
If this is the case then my advice would be to buy an alternative user friendly book and cover it with a brown paper jacket.