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Semantic Data Modeling

A semantic data model in software engineering has various meanings:

  1. It is a conceptual data model in which semantic information is included. This means that the model describes the meaning of its instances. Such a semantic data model is an abstraction that defines how the stored symbols (the instance data) relate to the real world.
  2. It is a conceptual data model that includes the capability to express information that enables parties to the information exchange to interpret meaning (semantics) from the instances, without the need to know the meta-model. Such semantic models are fact oriented (as opposed to object oriented). Facts are typically expressed by binary relations between data elements, whereas higher order relations are expressed as collections of binary relations. Typically binary relations have the form of triples: Object-RelationType-Object. For example: the Eiffel Tower Paris.

Typically the instance data of semantic data models explicitly include the kinds of relationships between the various data elements, such as . To interpret the meaning of the facts from the instances it is required that the meaning of the kinds of relations (relation types) is known. Therefore, semantic data models typically standardise such relation types. This means that the second kind of semantic data models enable that the instances express facts that include their own meaning. The second kind of semantic data models are usually meant to create semantic databases. The ability to include meaning in semantic databases facilitates building distributed databases that enable applications to interpret the meaning from the content. This implies that semantic databases can be integrated when they use the same (standard) relation types. This also implies that in general they have a wider applicability than relational or object oriented databases.

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