Reasoning in Description Logic Ontologies for Privacy Management

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral thesis


A rise in the number of ontologies that are integrated and distributed in numerous application systems may provide the users to access the ontologies with different privileges and purposes. In this situation, preserving confidential information from possible unauthorized disclosures becomes a critical requirement. For instance, in the clinical sciences, unauthorized disclosures of medical information do not only threaten the system but also, most importantly, the patient data. Motivated by this situation, this thesis initially investigates a privacy problem, called the identity problem, where the identity of (anonymous) objects stored in Description Logic ontologies can be revealed or not. Then, we consider this problem in the context of role-based access control to ontologies and extend it to the problem asking if the identity belongs to a set of known individuals of cardinality smaller than the number k. If it is the case that some confidential information of persons, such as their identity, their relationships or their other properties, can be deduced from an ontology, which implies that some privacy policy is not fulfilled, then one needs to repair this ontology such that the modified one complies with the policies and preserves the information from the original ontology as much as possible. The repair mechanism we provide is called gentle repair and performed via axiom weakening instead of axiom deletion which was commonly used in classical approaches of ontology repair. However, policy compliance itself is not enough if there is a possible attacker that can obtain relevant information from other sources, which together with the modified ontology still violates the privacy policies. Safety property is proposed to alleviate this issue and we investigate this in the context of privacy-preserving ontology publishing. Inference procedures to solve those privacy problems and additional investigations on the complexity of the procedures, as well as the worst-case complexity of the problems, become the main contributions of this thesis.


Original languageEnglish
Qualification levelDr.-Ing.
  • Baader, Franz, Main supervisor
  • Strufe, Thorsten, Supervisor
  • Bonatti, Piero A. , Reviewer, External person
Defense Date (Date of certificate)25 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
No renderer: customAssociatesEventsRenderPortal,dk.atira.pure.api.shared.model.researchoutput.Thesis

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-9047-7624/work/142660222



  • Description Logic, Ontology, Privacy, Knowledge Representation And Reasoning