Deborah McGuinness

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Deborah L. McGuinness
ResidenceLatham, New York, United States
Other namesDeb
EducationRutgers University, University of California at Berkeley and Duke University
OccupationComputer scientist
EmployerRensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Known forSignificant Contributions to the Semantic Web and Description Logics
Holder of the Tetherless World Chair of Computer and Cognitive Science at RPI

Deborah Louise McGuinness (born ca. 1960) is an American computer scientist and Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she holds an endowed chair in the Tetherless World Research Constellation. She is working in the field of artificial intelligence, specifically in knowledge representation and reasoning, description logics, the semantic web, explanation, and trust.


McGuinness received a B.S. in math and computer science from Duke University, a master's degree in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rutgers University in 1996.[1]

Prior to coming to Stanford, she was in the Artificial Intelligence Research Departments at AT&T Bell Labs and AT&T Labs Research at Murray Hill and Florham Park, respectively. She was co-director and senior research scientist at the Knowledge Systems Laboratory at Stanford University.

In October 2007 she became faculty at RPI, where she joined another well known semantic web expert, James Hendler on the Tetherless World Research Constellation.[2]

In November, 2013, McGuinness was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[3]


McGuinness is known for her work on description logics.[4] particularly her work on the CLASSIC knowledge representation system, explanation components for description logics, and a number of long-lived applications of description logics such as the PROSE and QUESTAR configurators from AT&T and Lucent and the wines knowledge base for CLASSIC, DAML, OWL, and the KSL Wine Agent.

She is also well known in the field for co-authoring the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)'s recommendation for an Ontology Web Language - OWL. She also started Stanford's explanation effort, called Inference Web, that aims to provide infrastructure for improving trust and understandability of answers in distributed environments, such as the web. She is co-author of the Proof Markup Language (PML) for representing knowledge provenance.

McGuinness continues to be involved in a variety of research relating to the semantic web, trustable systems and web integration platforms for portable devices. In addition to her research activities she is also CEO and president of her own consulting firm and serves on the board of the Semantic Web Science Foundation as well as a number of start-up companies.[2]



  • 2004. The description logic handbook: theory, implementation, and applications. Cambridge University Press.

Articles, a selection:

  • Noy, Natalya F., and Deborah L. McGuinness. "Ontology development 101: A guide to creating your first ontology." (2001).
  • McGuinness, Deborah L., and Frank Van Harmelen. "OWL web ontology language overview." W3C recommendation 10.2004-03 (2004): 10.
  • Bechhofer, Sean, et al. "OWL web ontology language reference." W3C recommendation 10 (2004): 2006-01.


  1. ^ Deborah Louise McGuinness at Mathematics Genealogy Project.
  2. ^ a b RPI Press Release (2007). "Web Language and Artificial Intelligence Expert Joins Tetherless World Research Constellation". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
  3. ^ RPI Press Release (2013). "Rensselaer Professor Deborah L. McGuinness Named Fellow of the AAAS".
  4. ^ Deborah L. McGuinness Google Scholar profile. Her 2004 book "The description logic handbook: theory, implementation, and applications" is cited over 6000 times.

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