Semantic Web: Past, Present, and Future

Authors Ansgar Scherp , Gerd Groener , Petr Škoda , Katja Hose , Maria-Esther Vidal

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Author Details

Ansgar Scherp
  • Ulm University, Germany
Gerd Groener
  • Carl Zeiss SMT GmbH, Oberkochen, Germany
Petr Škoda
  • Department of Software Engineering, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Katja Hose
  • TU Wien, Austria
Maria-Esther Vidal
  • Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany
  • TIB-Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology, Hannover, Germany


This article is a living document. The first version was written by Jannik, Scherp, and Staab in 2011 [Maciej Janik et al., 2011]. It was translated to German and updated by Gröner, Scherp, and Staab in 2013 [Gerd Gröner et al., 2013] and updated again by Gröner and Scherp in 2020 [Ansgar Scherp and Gerd Gröner, 2020]. This release in 2024 reflects on the latest developments in knowledge graphs and large language models.

Cite AsGet BibTex

Ansgar Scherp, Gerd Groener, Petr Škoda, Katja Hose, and Maria-Esther Vidal. Semantic Web: Past, Present, and Future. In Special Issue on Trends in Graph Data and Knowledge - Part 2. Transactions on Graph Data and Knowledge (TGDK), Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 3:1-3:37, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2024)


Ever since the vision was formulated, the Semantic Web has inspired many generations of innovations. Semantic technologies have been used to share vast amounts of information on the Web, enhance them with semantics to give them meaning, and enable inference and reasoning on them. Throughout the years, semantic technologies, and in particular knowledge graphs, have been used in search engines, data integration, enterprise settings, and machine learning. In this paper, we recap the classical concepts and foundations of the Semantic Web as well as modern and recent concepts and applications, building upon these foundations. The classical topics we cover include knowledge representation, creating and validating knowledge on the Web, reasoning and linking, and distributed querying. We enhance this classical view of the so-called "Semantic Web Layer Cake" with an update of recent concepts that include provenance, security and trust, as well as a discussion of practical impacts from industry-led contributions. We conclude with an outlook on the future directions of the Semantic Web. This is a living document. If you like to contribute, please contact the first author and visit:

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Information systems → Semantic web description languages
  • Information systems → Markup languages
  • Computing methodologies → Ontology engineering
  • Computing methodologies → Knowledge representation and reasoning
  • Linked Open Data
  • Semantic Web Graphs
  • Knowledge Graphs


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