Diego Calvanese, Giuseppe De Giacomo, Maurizio Lenzerini, Daniele Nardi, and Riccardo Rosati
In recent years there has been a growing interest in accessing, relating, and combining data from multiple sources. Indeed, Information Integration is one of the core problems in distributed databases, cooperative information systems, and data warehousing, which are key areas in the software development industry. Two critical factors for the design and maintenance of applications requiring Information Integration are conceptual modeling of the domain, and reasoning support over the conceptual representation. We demonstrate that Knowledge Representation and Reasoning techniques can play an important role for both of these factors, by proposing a Description Logic based framework for Information Integration. We show that the development of successful Information Integration solutions requires not only to resort to very expressive Description Logics, but also to significantly extend them. We present a novel approach to conceptual modeling for Information Integration, which allows for suitably modeling the global concepts of the application, the individual information sources, and the constraints among different sources. Moreover, we devise inference procedures for the fundamental reasoning services, namely relation and concept subsumption, and query containment. Finally, we present a methodological framework for Information Integration, which can be applied in several contexts, and highlights the role of reasoning services within the design process.