Semantic network

From Academic Kids

de:Semantisches Netz

A semantic network is often used as a form of knowledge representation. It is a directed graph consisting of vertices which represent concepts and edges which represent semantic relations between the concepts.

Semantic networks are a common type of machine-readable dictionary.

Important semantic relations:

  • Hyponymy (or troponymy) (A is subordinate of B; A is kind of B)
  • Hypernymy (A is superordinate of B)


An example of a semantic network is WordNet, a lexical database of English.

The link and lexical structure of the Wikipedia might also be regarded as a simple example of a semantic network, with the following properties:

  • article A is linked to article B
  • the name of article A is used in the Wikipedia entry for B

Such networks involve fairly loose semantic associations that are nonetheless useful for human browsing. It is possible to represent logical descriptions using semantic networks such as the Existential Graphs of Charles S. Peirce or the related Conceptual Graphs of John F. Sowa. These have expressive power equal to or exceeding standard first-order predicate logic. Unlike WordNet or other lexical or browsing networks, semantic networks using these can be used for reliable automated logical deduction. Some automated reasoners exploit the graph-theoretic features of the networks during processing.

"Semantic Nets" were first invented for computers by Richard H. Richens of the Cambridge Language Research Unit in 1956 as an "interlingua" for machine translation of natural languages. They were developed by Robert F. Simmons at Systems Development Corporation, Santa Monica, California in the early 1960s and later featured prominently in the work of M. Ross Quillian in 1966.

One can consider a mind map to be a very free form variant of a semantic network. By using colors and pictures the emphasis is on generating a semantic net which evokes human creativity.

In the 1960s to 1980s the idea of a semantic link was developed within hypertext systems as the most basic unit, or edge, in an semantic network. These ideas were extremely influential, and there have been many attempts to add typed link semantics to HTML and XML.

See also:

External links

  • What Are Semantic Networks? (http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/local/books/computers-and-thought/chap6/node5.html) A Little Light History
  • WordNet® (http://cogsci.princeton.edu/~wn/) - lexical reference system
  • ConceptNet (http://www.conceptnet.org) Knowledge Browser and Commonsense Inference API
  • Citations from CiteSeer (http://citeseer.nj.nec.com/cs?q=%22semantic+network%22)
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