Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Computer Science


Computer Science

First Advisor

Giora Slutzki


In this dissertation, we study the problem of secrecy-preserving query answering (SPQA) against knowledge bases (KBs) under the open world assumption (OWA) - the assumption that typical KBs are incomplete. Protection of secret information is a critical requirement for the design of information systems in semantic web applications. Recently, semantic web technolo- gies are widely used in many application domains like healthcare, bioinformatics, intelligence and national security. So, there is a pressing need for developing robust secret protection mech- anisms suitable for ontology-based information systems. In our work, we use a logical approach to enforce secrecy where the domain knowledge is represented in an appropriate description logic (DL). In particular, to protect secret information we take advantage of OWA. Under OWA, a querying agent cannot distinguish whether a query is being protected or it cannot be inferred from the KB. The central idea in our approach to protect the secret information is to build a logical shield called “envelope” around the confidential information and answers queries correctly as much as possible without compromising the secrecy.

We have chosen lightweight DL languages like DL-LiteR and ELH for studying SPQA problem with single querying agent in the first half of this dissertation. We have considered DL-LiteR KB with acyclic TBox and the secrecy set containing both assertional queries and Boolean Conjunctive Queries (BCQs). By computing a suitable envelope, we protect the secrets in the secrecy set. We have used Kleenes 3-valued semantics to prove the correctness of the query answering procedure. We have also performed a detailed analysis of computational complexities of various algorithms used in this dissertation. In ELH logic, we define a secrecy set that contains both assertional and general concept inclusion queries. A new strategy has been employed to construct the SPQA system for the given ELH KB. This includes designing efficient query answering algorithms based on recursive decomposition of queries and have shown that the query answering algorithms are sound and complete, thus providing correctness proof.

In the second half of this dissertation, we have studied the SPQA problem in ELH♦ (ELH augmented with modal operator ♦). Given a ELH♦ KB and a finite secrecy set, we compute a SPQA system in the form of a tree, called secrecy-preserving tree. In this case the secrecy set contains only assertions. Since the information available in secrecy-preserving tree is not sufficient to answer all the queries, we further augment the query answering procedure with a recursive procedure. The recursive procedure is based on th idea of breaking the query into smaller assertions all the way until the information in the secrecy-preserving tree can be used.

Copyright Owner

Gopalakrishnan Krishnasamy Sivaprakasam



File Format


File Size

99 pages