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Making the Web work as one

The 2015 International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC) -- the leading conference for research on Semantic Web topics -- is coming to the Lehigh Valley.

A Lehigh University team led by Jeff Heflin, associate professor of computer science and engineering, successfully landed a competitive bid to host the 14th annual ISWC. According to Heflin, who has served on four ISWC organizing committees over the last decade, this is a weeklong learning and networking event that draws academic, corporate, and government researchers from around the world.

“We’re delighted to bring this event to Lehigh,” says Heflin. “Our University’s reputation in this area is growing every day. Many of the conference attendees are already familiar with the Lehigh University Benchmark (LUBM) and other work by our team, but otherwise know little about Lehigh. Getting the nod from ISWC is confirmation of Lehigh’s stature in the field. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Lehigh Valley is also emerging as a very tech-minded, entrepreneurial community that’s easily accessible from important metro areas in the Eastern U.S.”

The announcement of Lehigh's hosting of the 2015 conference was made during the closing ceremony of ISWC2013 in Sydney, Australia.

The annual event is overseen by the Semantic Web Science Association (SWSA), a non-profit that promotes the exchange of scholarly work in Semantic Web and related fields throughout the world. Lehigh’s Semantic Web Agent Technologies (SWAT) Lab defines the Semantic Web as “a vision for extending the Web so that machines can more intelligently integrate and process the wealth of information that is available.” Unlike traditional Web code, Semantic Web languages allow semantics (i.e., meaning) to be explicitly associated with its content.

Bringing ISWC to Lehigh puts Bethlehem in good company. Recent ISWC venues include Sydney as well as: Busan, South Korea; Bonn, Germany; Sardinia, Italy; Galway, Ireland; Hiroshima, Japan; and, Shanghai, China. Venues in the U.S. have included Boston, Washington, D.C., and Athens, GA.

Heflin and the team -- which includes support from Lehigh’s Conference Services, Library and Technology Services, Dining Services, Registrar and Transportation groups -- are working with local vendors, venues, and organizations to coordinate the weeklong event in a way that helps put Lehigh’s best foot forward. “I think a lot of our colleagues in this field will be pleasantly surprised by all that Lehigh and our surrounding community has to offer,” he says.

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