Product Representation in the Semantic Web

15 Pages Posted: 13 May 2004

See all articles by Martin F. Hepp

Martin F. Hepp

Universitaet der Bundeswehr Munich

Date Written: April 28, 2004


The machine-readable representation of products is probably the most important challenge on the road to business applications for the Semantic Web. This will not only help search engines provide more precise product search for human users, but can be expected to support a much higher degree of automation in general, which means basically the delegation of tasks to machines. Current descriptive languages for products and services, like UNSPSC, the German approach eClass, and the eOTD lack both the required coverage of concepts and semantic precision, and it is unclear how they shall be used in Semantic Web applications. One core problem with those traditional classification-based approaches is that in a Semantic Web context, the same document must be machine-readable by a huge number of different partners for a multiplicity of purposes. In other words, the data recipient and the data usage are not predetermined, which makes it difficult to reach consensus about suitable product classes. This paper develops the requirements for product representation in the Semantic Web, evaluates existing alternatives and describes a property-centric product description approach for the Semantic Web, based on the reuse of existing attribute libraries.

Keywords: Semantic Web, Content Standards, Product Ontologies, eCl@ss, eClass

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Hepp, Martin F., Product Representation in the Semantic Web (April 28, 2004). Available at SSRN: or

Martin F. Hepp (Contact Author)

Universitaet der Bundeswehr Munich ( email )

WOW 3.5
Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39
Neubiberg, 85577
+49-89-6004-4217 (Phone)


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