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Ask Ian: What are your motivations for RDFox?

Ask Ian: What are your motivations for RDFox?
Ian Horrocks

In this episode we asked Ian, BSc Lovelace Medalist and OST co-founder, what are your motivations for RDFox?


To listen along, check out our podcast episode below, available on YouTube.


Motivation wise, if we think about the medical applications, but really it's no different in a typical corporate application, it's really important to get the right answer.

I mean obviously, in the medical application, if you get the wrong answer, people may die. You really need to be sure you're getting the right answer. But also in a corporate setting, if you give the wrong answer, customers may come back and ask for you know refunds of extremely large contracts. It's not good. You want to be absolutely sure you're getting the right answer.

So one of my initial motivations was formalize the knowledge representation in a way that we could really guarantee that the answers were correct, but also finding algorithms that could be very efficiently implemented in practice so that the systems that we built really work while in you know realistic settings.

Actually, the funny thing is that, in the beginning, people really didn't like it because, well, the experts didn't like it, because the system was coming back and telling them they did something wrong and they really weren’t used to that. They kind of thought, ‘I'm the expert, if I say that then it must be right’. So, at first there was quite a lot of resistance to the use of AI systems in general in medicine, and the system we were developing was no exception.

Over time, people got used to it and actually came to really rely on it. By now, it's totally the other way round. People come to us and say, ‘I need this, how can I possibly build any kind of medical system without a KRR system to check that it all makes sense’.

RDFox continues to evolve to meet the growing complexity and diversity of AI applications that rely on knowledge representation and reasoning which, from a personal perspective, is immensely satisfying.


Stay tuned for future podcast episodes, where we ask Ian more about how RDFox was created and the applications of KRR in various industries.

Check out our other interview series, ‘Meet the Founders’, where we asked our founders about their journey in bringing OST to life:

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Team and Resources

The team behind Oxford Semantic Technologies started working on RDFox in 2011 at the Computer Science Department of the University of Oxford with the conviction that flexible and high-performance reasoning was a possibility for data-intensive applications without jeopardising the correctness of the results. RDFox is the first market-ready knowledge graph designed from the ground up with reasoning in mind. Oxford Semantic Technologies is a spin-out of the University of Oxford and is backed by leading investors including Samsung Venture Investment Corporation (SVIC), Oxford Sciences Enterprises (OSE) and Oxford University Innovation (OUI).