How do you organize an abundance of data and information in a meaningful way?

(07-07-2022) Sven Lieber investigated in his PhD how computers can process data in a meaningful way.

People have been collecting information for centuries. The advent of digital technologies and especially the Internet has led to a gigantic explosion of information and data. By 2020, the number of digital bytes was 40 times greater than the number of stars in the observable universe.

The big challenge is to organize and manage all that data in a systematic and meaningful way. Otherwise, large amounts of data will remain unused. To achieve smart information management, it is also necessary to consider what connections between different types of data make sense. The method of linking these data together is called a knowledge graph.

"However, knowledge graphs need boundaries to express what are meaningful connections between data in a given context, otherwise you can marry your car or drink the air," Sven explains.

"On a book website, for example, the terms 'author', 'book title' and 'write' have a relationship or connection to each other but it is important to include what relationships between these terms make sense. For example, meaningful is 'Andy Weir' 'wrote' 'The Martian'. But 'The Martian' 'wrote' 'Andy Weir' does not make sense," Sven explains.

"Humans have a feeling of what makes sense, but these delimitations of relationships between concepts or data must be defined by humans such that computers can use it. The boundary (a kind of axiom) in this example could be: authors write books" he continues.

"In my research, I have focused on the creation and use of these knowledge graph boundaries by people. I did this within user studies and by applying my research in different projects. One project, in collaboration with the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR), was about the preservation of social media such as Facebook or Instagram posts in Belgium" concludes Sven.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD


PhD Title: Assessing, Creating and Using Knowledge Graph Restrictions


Contact: Sven Lieber, Ruben Verborgh

Sven Lieber

Sven Lieber received a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 2013 from Albstadt-Sigmaringen University in Germany and a Master of Science degree in 2016 from the University of Freiburg in Germany. Since then he pursued a PhD degree at IDLab, a core research group of imec at Ghent University where he also worked as a researcher.

Since July 2021 he works as a data manager at the Royal Library of Belgium. In his PhD research, Sven investigated the assessing and use of Knowledge Graph restrictions. He was the first author of one journal article and eight conference papers presented at international conferences. Furthermore, he co-authored two more journal articles and three conference articles.


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke