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IDSAI Seminar: Dr. Pier Luigi Buttigieg - The art and science of knowledge representation for Earth and Environmental Science

Open to University of Exeter staff and students

Event details


Knowledge representation (KR) is a branch of artificial intelligence which translates human knowledge into machine actionable form, typically using semantic web technologies. Expressive KR approaches often encode knowledge in "ontologies" (originally a branch of metaphysics), using an interdisciplinary mix of computer science, philosophy, (ethno)linguistics, logic, and domain knowledge. Complementing machine learning approaches, KR is particularly useful where data is scarce or unreliable, but where experts have reliable insight into phenomena.

This seminar will provide a briefing on selected KR activities in the field of Earth and Environmental Science. It will highlight progress made and challenges encountered in the development of the OBO Foundry's Environment Ontology and its recent alignment with the Semantic Web for Earth and Environment Technology Ontology (SWEET) of the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP; including NASA, NOAA, USGS and many others). The talk will also touch on recent integrations of environmental KR in the informatics supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and in UNESCO's Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development's digital strategy. At a national level, the talk will also brief the audience on the planned integration of KR technologies into the Helmholtz Federation's Earth and Environment data science drive.


Watch the recording of Dr Pier Luigi Buttigieg's seminar here:

Pier Luigi researches and develops advanced, operational-grade, and internationally adopted knowledge representation (KR) technologies for ecology, planetary science, and Sustainable Development. He applies these solutions in mobilising and analysing complex and high-dimensional data sets, while leading community efforts to enhance global interoperability, particularly in the marine life sciences. The goal of his work is to use data science to better bridge scientific data, information, and knowledge with operations, applications, policy, and society. 

He leads the Environment Ontology (ENVO) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals Interface Ontology (SDGIO) and serves on the Operations Committee of the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) Foundry and Library ( and co-chairs the Semantic Technology Committee of the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP; To use KR to support the future of ocean science, he leads the technical development of the UNESCO/IOC-IODE Ocean Best Practices System ( and is helping to shape the UNESCO/IOC Ocean Data Information System (ODIS).