Using Insights from Psychology and Language to Improve How People Reason with Description Logics

  • Paul WarrenEmail author
  • Paul Mulholland
  • Trevor Collins
  • Enrico Motta
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10249)


Inspired by insights from theories of human reasoning and language, we propose additions to the Manchester OWL Syntax to improve comprehensibility. These additions cover: functional and inverse functional properties, negated conjunction, the definition of exceptions, and existential and universal restrictions. By means of an empirical study, we demonstrate the effectiveness of a number of these additions, in particular: the use of solely to clarify the uniqueness of the object in a functional property; the replacement of and with intersection in conjunction, which was particularly beneficial in negated conjunction; the use of except as a substitute for and not; and the replacement of some with including and only with noneOrOnly, which helped in certain situations to clarify the nature of these restrictions.


Description logics Psychology of reasoning Philosophy of language Empirical studies 



The authors would like to thank all the study participants, and in particular Dr. Gem Stapleton, of Brighton University, and Dr. John Davies, of BT Research, for facilitating experimental sessions at their respective institutions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Warren
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul Mulholland
    • 1
  • Trevor Collins
    • 1
  • Enrico Motta
    • 1
  1. 1.Knowledge Media InstituteThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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