MKBEEM Annual Report 2000

MKBEEM stands for Multilingual Knowledge Based European Electronic Marketplace (IST-1999-10589, 1st Feb. 2000 - 1st Aug. 2002). In MKBEEM we basically focus on written language technologies and its use in the key sector of global business. In particular MKBEEM is focussing on adding multilingualism to all stages of the information cycle, including multilingual content generation and maintenance, automated translation and interpretation and enhancing the natural interactivity and usability of the service with unconstrained language input. On the Knowledge side, the MKBEEM Ontologies will provide a consensual representation of the electronic commerce field in three typical Domains (Tourism, Mail order, B2B portals) allowing the exchanges independently of the language of the end user, the service, or the content provider. Ontologies will be used for classifying and indexing catalogues, for filtering userís query, for facilitating multilingual man-machine dialogues between user and software agent, and for inferring information that is relevant to the userís request.

This 2.5-year project, which started in February 2000, involves SEMA group sae (Madrid, Spain), University of Madrid (Spain), National Technical University of Athens (Greece), University of Montpellier (France), Tradezone International (Newcastle, UK), VTT (Espoo, Finland), Ellos Postimyynti Oy (Kerava, Finland), SNCF (Paris, France), FIDAL-France and France Telecom R&D (coordinator).

In Summary, the MKBEEM objectives are to:

Summary of 2000 Activities

The project started February 1st, 2000. First, the work concentrated on the production of the Quality Plan (D11) for the full project life and on the Consortium Agreement (D10). Then, the work was focused on the production of the Service Requirements (D21), the state of the art on three key technologies, Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (D31), Human Language Processing (D41) which proposes a generic architecture for implementing HLP, Rationality and Dialogues (D51), lastly, the web and FTP sites (D12) were open. After that, the work has progressed on the global architecture, the SW development methodology and tools, the service usage plan (D22) and the global functional specifications (D61). In the last 4 months of the year 2000, the project has worked on the detailed specifications (D32, D42, 52) and its coding.

The MKBEEM project attended on invitation two important technical events: "Semantics for the web" (Dagstuhl, Germany) and ECAI'00 (Berlin, August 20-25) Workshop on Applications on Ontologies and Problem-Solving Methods and main Scientific conferences (KRR 2000...)

Service Requirements and Demonstrator

The coverage of the envisioned MKBEEM demonstrated services is rather large due to the contributions of our user partners. In effect MKBEEM covers B2B, B2C and legal issues associated to operating internet pan European e-commerce. The D21 results in a high-level functional specification of the MKBEEM system and services. It presents a vision of the Multilingual services, which will be provided and how these services might be employed within the business models of the individual user partners (Tradezone International, Ellos Postimyynti Oy and SNCF).

Three Main Use Cases have been identified:

  1. Multilingual cataloguing,
  2. Crosslingual information requests,
  3. Multilingual trading.

Lastly to illustrate this vision and to ease the awareness of the MKBEEM work, we develop a first demonstrator shown at IST'2000 (Nice, F, Nov. 6-8, 2000)

KR tools and Methodology and Ontology specifications

First a comparative study of methodologies, Knowledge Representation languages and tools for building domain ontologies was carried out. Tests cases specified by our users partners were used to test the expressivenes of the candidate KR languages and tools for Ontology building were identified. Then, methodologies and a few advanced tools needed to build a juridical space of negotiations between consumers and providers in the context of E-Commerce were reviewed. Finally, an analysis of a set of methods to manage Multilingual Domain Ontologies was done. We decided to use three tools mastered by the MKBEEM partners: CONE, WebContract and WebODE developed respectevely by VTT, Fidal and UPM. We also decided to select a description logic language (CARIN-DL) for performing the inferences.

Secondly, it is on this framework of distributed construction of ontologies where the need of using a transfer syntax cames up. We decided to use a KR exchange format (Carin-DL on XML). Translators from the three ontology development environments into X-CARIN have been built and tested. We also have proposed the Ontology Architecture and a leyered structure of the Domain Ontologies at the MKBEEM platform. We have envisionned to re-use existing vocabulary on the domain of e-commerce as top level ontologies: (e.g. UNSPSC (Universal Standard Products and Services Classification code organisation) Ontology, RosettaNet Ontology for elctronic computer equipments, E-Cl@ss German Ontology).

Related to the use of the ontologies in the final application, our user partners target applications will make extensive use of domain ontologies and HLP server in order to achieve best-effort of offers and HL User dialogues.

HLP Server Architecture and Protocols

The generic architecture of HLP server and protocols needed in MKBEEM system has been specified. A detailed specification of the HLP servers and instantiation with various lingware components and knowledge bases for each trial show the HLP server has been prepared.

We cover the important question of knowledge and tasks distribution between HLP and Ontology Servers with a walk-through of the processing of customer HL input. We use lexico-semantic directed acyclic graphs (LS-DAG) as intermediate runtime structures.

Lastly we have instantiated the HLP Servers for the three trial cases. Each of the trials (Ellos, SNCF and Tradezone International) has its own instantiation, with different requirements, components and operating platforms. The needed components and linguistic resources have been identified.

Rationality and Dialogues

Initially, work has focused on the study of existing technologies, paradigms and tools of potential use to the development of the mediation platform, in particular agent-based. A survey was launched, that summarized the characteristics of the leading agent platforms and tools. Factors that affect the suitability of these technologies for the project were identified and assessed. On this basis, a critical review of the suitability and applicability of the various technologies, paradigms and standards for the project was performed.

Work proceeded towards the detailed specification of the mediation agent. The specification of the brokerage functionality was performed, showing how the resources and functions of the system should be combined. We covered the issues of unifying the diverse product catalogues of various content providers and supporting the resolution of ambiguous human language inputs through dialogue with the users. Finally, the detailed design of the mediation agent was specified.

The Demonstrator

The MKBEEM prototype is composed of:

See and Demonstrator to get the all the details of installation or remote demonstrator.

This demonstrator has been shown at the IST'2000 Exhibition in Nice (November 6-8, 2000)

It illustrates the three main Use Cases of the Business Model of our User's partners.

Two typical screens of the Demonstrator giving access to the cross lingual catalog of products search, and further on after few steps, giving the automatic natural language generation of the contract attached to the products to be bought, in the native language of the customer. This shows how a pan-European multilingual marketplace could work. What is not shown here, but available on the web site, is the semi-automatic production of multilingual catalogues.

Market Prospects

In this area, and during the first year of the project, the consortium has launched the survey of related products and announced services. In the area of past or still running exploratory European projects, we have identified: Mikrokosmos, Pangloss, Plinius, Ontogeneration, OntoSeek and Euroworldnet to name few. In the Business domain, the announced Multilingual e-commerce from have common objectives with IST-MKBEEM.

User Group, Promotion and Awareness

The MKBEEM project attended on invitation two important technical events: "Semantics for the web" (Dagstuhl, Germany). Just outside of the given period presentation at ECAI'00 (Berlin, August 20-25) Workshop on Applications on Ontologies and Problem-Solving Methods and main Scientific conferences (KRR 2000...) and Usix seminar (Helsinki, Sept. 4, 2000) were given.

Participation (presentation of MKBEEM) to Open House (Luxembourg, 24-25 Sept. 2000) , to IST'2000 (Nice, November 6-8, 2000) and to the 2nd SCHEMAS workshop (Bonn, Nov. 23-24, 2000).

Project user group activities

For the time being the consortium is not aware of any user group activities.

Concertation with other projects, within HLT cluster/sector and with other R&D Projects/bodies

The first event of that kind was the Open House (Luxembourg, September 25-26)

Contacts have been made with related R&D projects





(Cross-lingual multi-agent retail comparison) to be launched

Contacts have been made with the following HLT cluster/sector


(Collaboration in Language and Speech Science and technology)


(Meta-Descriptions, and Annotation Schemes for multimodal/Multimedia Language Resources and data architectures and software support for large corpora) URL :


Network of Excellence in Human Language Technologies URL:


forum for Metadata Schema Implementers URL :

Contacts outside Europe


Standard Upper Ontology effort


Agent Mark Up Language (DAML)


Stanford Knowledge Systems Laboratories, Lareg Ontologies for E-Commerce

Future Work

The major milestones to be achieved in the second phase of the project are

Further Information

More information on the work of the project is available on request from the project coordination team (see the MKBEEM web site