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Published: 2021-03-15

Prestigious prize to Diego Calvanese, Wallenberg Guest Professor

NEWS Diego Calvanese, Wallenberg Guest Professor in Artificial Intelligence for Data Management at the Department of Computing Science of Umeå University, has received the prestigious AAAI Classic Paper Award 2021. “I consider this type of recognition the most important one that a scientific publication can receive because it testifies to the strong impact that the research has had over time on the scientific community. I am extremely happy”, says professor Diego Calvanese.

Text: Victoria Skeidsvoll

The Classic Paper Award was assigned to a paper that professor Diego Calvanese published at AAAI in 2005 together with colleagues from Sapienza University of Rome. They introduced and studied a novel family of ontology languages which could be used to access efficiently large amounts of data stored in traditional relational databases.
“DL-Lite, as the language framework is called, is lightweight, in the sense that they have a restricted, but carefully controlled, expressive power, which gave them very good computational properties”, professor Diego Calvanese explains.

Opened up the door

He and his team continued their work by defining a novel notion and technique for query rewritability. And their work aroused both interest and trust all over the world and received more than 2000 citations.

“Our work laid the theoretical foundations for an area that became popular as ontology-based data access (or OBDA).  This area has been studied intensively over the years, by many different research groups working both in knowledge representation and reasoning and in data management, and has given rise to hundreds of scientific publications appearing in top venues in AI and Databases.”

Diego Calvanese and his colleagues opened up the door for a framework for accessing and managing large and complex data sources through the lens of an ontology.
“Such ontology provides a high-level view over the data and makes it possible also for non-experts in data management to easily query, access, and manipulate the data, thus extracting value out of them, without the need to have precise knowledge of how such data are organized and structured at the data sources.”

New research group in Umeå

With generous funding from WASP, Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program, and Umeå university, professor Diego Calvanese is now building up a research group at Umeå university to further strengthening the research competences in AI and Data Management. This group will work on the general topic of OBDA and Virtual Knowledge Graphs within Ontop, a framework for data management, developed by Diego Calvanese and his collaborators over the past 10 years. It is based on knowledge graphs and now widely used not only in academia but also in industrial settings. 

“On the one hand we want to broaden the theoretical foundations and study methods for dealing with different kinds of data sources that are becoming increasingly important. On the other hand, we want to build technologies and tools that support advanced functionalities”.

Amount of data

In the past years we have seen an incredible growth in digitalization of our society and in the amount of data that all our digital devices are producing. Managing all this data and making good use of them to improve society as a whole is going to be a grand challenge.

“I plan to contribute to this effort, by further strengthening our research competences in AI and data management. I hope that with the foundational and applied research that we will be doing we can give some relevant contributions to this challenging and exciting research field, that will have a lasting impact on the scientific community but also on society as a whole.

“Diego Calvanese is one of the world's leading AI professors. We are very happy and proud to have him with us and that he has received this prestigious award”, says Erik Elmroth, professor and Head of the Department of Computing Science at Umeå University.

Diego Calvanese
Wallenberg Guest Professor in Artificial Intelligence for Data Management at the Department of Computing Science of Umeå University and Professor in Computing Science at University of Bozen-Bolzano, in the northern part of Italy. Diego Calvanese has been carrying out research at the borderline between Knowledge Representation in Artificial Intelligence and Databases since his PhD, completed in 1996 at Sapienza University of Rome. He is a world-leading researcher in AI and Computing Science.

AAAI is one of the two premium international scientific conferences covering all areas of Artificial Intelligence. AAAI attracts thousands of researchers within the discipline and the selection of papers accepted for publication is fierce. In the last edition more than 9000 papers were submitted, and less than one fifth were accepted.  The AAAI Classic Paper Award is given to the paper from a past edition of the conference that has had the greatest impact on the scientific community over time.

Umeå University is a partner university within WASP, Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Sweden's largest individual research program ever.