Information Systems Group

― Knowledge Representation and Reasoning

Rob Shearer

Research Assistant; Doctoral Student (Linacre College)


My primary research interest is efficient and scalable reasoning systems for very expressive description logics, including the logic which forms the theoretical foundation of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Ontology Language (OWL). In addition to my theoretical work, I am a part of the team developing HermiT, a reasoner for OWL ontologies.

I am currently working to complete my DPhil dissertation, which is (currently) titled Scalable Reasoning for Description Logics. I plan to submit my thesis in January 2010.

Prior Work

Before coming to Oxford I did similar research at the University of Manchester as a member of Manchester’s Information Management Group and that group’s Description Logic clique. While there, I managed the “Semantic Web Language Extensions” work package (number 2.5) of the EU KnowledgeWeb project, and in most cases served as Manchester’s representative within other work packages.

Prior to that, I developed the Cerebra reasoner while leading technology development at a small start-up company (called Network Inference and located in London when I joined, and called Cerebra, Inc. and located in Carlsbad, California when I left). The company was subsequently acquired by WebMethods, which in turn became a part of SoftwareAG; I have no idea what the status of the Cerebra reasoner is these days. During my time there I had some involvement with the W3C RDF Data Access Working Group, which went on to produce SPARQL.

I also spent a few years with Transversal in Cambridge, England, working on adapting natural language processing technologies to the problems of web content management.


I’m a member of Linacre College and currently serve as the college’s Common Room Information Technology Representative. I also had an eventful tenure as head resident of one of Linacre’s houses from 2008 to 2009.

For reasons even I have trouble fully understanding, I’m an active member of the Oxford University Athletics Club, and have represented the club in a number of competitions for which they couldn’t find anybody else willing to show up, in events ranging from hurdles to pole vault to hammer throw. Throughout the 2008--2009 season I was the squad leader for Oxford’s throwers.

In my younger days I attended Brown University, where I founded and served as president for Technology House, the university’s first and only technology-focused residential society.

I grew up in Rhode Island but have spent most of my time in the UK since early 2001.

If you want to buy me a gift, I like motorcycles.


Rob Shearer


Research Assistant, Doctoral Student


RInO, HermiT

Contact Information

+44 (0)1865 283529

Wolfson Building, Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3QD


Personal site

Recent Publications

Exploiting Partial Information in Taxonomy Construction
Rob Shearer and Ian Horrocks
ISWC submission

Hypertableau Reasoning for Description Logics
Boris Motik, Rob Shearer, and Ian Horrocks
journal submission

Complete list...


Awards at the ORE 2013 workshop

MORe, HermiT and ELK, three OWL reasoning systems developed in the Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KRR) group, have been awarded at the OWL Reasoner Evaluation Workshop (ORE 2013).

OWL Reasoner Evaluation Workshop (ORE 2013)

The KRR group co-organises the 2nd edition of the OWL Reasoner Evaluation Workshop (ORE), collocated with DL 2013 workshop.

Best paper prize at SWAT4LS'12

Doctoral Student Despoina Magka's paper entitled 'Ontology-Based Classification of Molecules: a Logic Programming Approach' has received the best paper prize at the 2012 Semantic Web Applications and Tools for Life Sciences workshop [more information].

Boris Motik awarded EPSRC Early Career Fellowship

Boris Motik was recently successful in gaining an EPSRC Early Career Fellowship. The 5 year project, MaSI3: A Massively Scalable Intelligent Information Infrastructure, focuses on Ontology-based Data Management Systems (ODMSs). These are a new kind of data management system specifically designed to deal with complex data, by using natural language queries often across multiple relevant sources [more information].

KRR member wins 'doctoral award' from University of Manchester

Yavor Nenov's PhD thesis "Computability of Euclidean Spatial Logics" has been awarded the Best Thesis Prize of the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester [more information].

Ian Horrocks (KRR group leader) elected to Academia Europaea

Ian Horrocks has been elected to join Academia Europæa, an eminent organization for European scholars. Academia Europæa was founded in 1988 and has over 2000 members, including around 40 Nobel Laureates [more information].

KRR member wins 'doctoral award' from Spanish university

The Jaume I University of Castellon (Spain) has awarded a "Premio extraordinario de doctorado" (roughly translated as a Extraordinary Doctoral Award) to Ernesto Jimenez-Ruiz who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford's Department of Computer Science [more information].

OAEI 2012: Matching Large Biomedical Ontologies

The KRR group organises the Large Biomedical Ontologies track within the Ontology Alignment Evaluation Initiative.