The role of ontologies in emergent middleware: Supporting interoperability in complex distributed systems

Gordon S. Blair*, Amel Bennaceur, Nikolaos Georgantas, Paul Grace, Valérie Issarny, Vatsala Nundloll, Massimo Paolucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


Interoperability is a fundamental problem in distributed systems, and an increasingly difficult problem given the level of heterogeneity and dynamism exhibited by contemporary systems. While progress has been made, we argue that complexity is now at a level such that existing approaches are inadequate and that a major re-think is required to identify principles and associated techniques to achieve this central property of distributed systems. In this paper, we postulate that emergent middleware is the right way forward; emergent middleware is a dynamically generated distributed system infrastructure for the current operating environment and context. In particular, we focus on the key role of ontologies in supporting this process and in providing underlying meaning and associated reasoning capabilities to allow the right run-time choices to be made. The paper presents the Connect middleware architecture as an example of emergent middleware and highlights the role of ontologies as a cross-cutting concern throughout this architecture. Two experiments are described as initial evidence of the potential role of ontologies in middleware. Important remaining challenges are also documented.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMiddleware 2011 - ACM/IFIP/USENIX 12th International Middleware Conference, Proceedings
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9783642258206
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2011
Event12th ACM/IFIP/USENIX International Middleware Conference, Middleware 2011 - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 12 Dec 201116 Dec 2011

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume7049 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference12th ACM/IFIP/USENIX International Middleware Conference, Middleware 2011


  • emergent middleware
  • interoperability
  • ontologies
  • system-of- systems


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of ontologies in emergent middleware: Supporting interoperability in complex distributed systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this