Obituary for Harold Boley

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Dr. Harold Boley ( ) studied in Hamburg and then worked at DFKI, the German Institute for Artificial Intelligence, from where he transitioned to the University of New Brunswick, where he taught Semantic Technologies, Declarative Programming, and Multi-Agent Systems and supervised graduate and undergraduate students. He also held a position at the National Research Council Canada. Dr. Boley was most well known for his work in the Web rule standards world. He chaired the RuleML Organization, maintained the RuleML Blog and co-organized the annual RuleML Symposium, which was held without interruption since 2002, first as a workshop, and since 2005 as a standalone conference. In 2017, RuleML merged with Web Reasoning and Rule Systems conference into RuleML+RR. Besides his high involvement in the rule community, Harold Boley contributed to various standardization efforts related to RuleML. Among the various RuleML achievements he also contributed to OASIS LegalRuleML, as well as the publication of the W3C Rule Interchange Format (RIF) and the Semantic Web Rule Language (SWRL). Dr. Boley’s research was in the area of Semantic Web rule languages and applications, with a particular focus on rule-based knowledge representation and reasoning. He was also involved in efforts joining rules and ontologies, e.g., with sorted Horn logics in Relfun, with a hybrid combination of Datalog and Description Logics, and the Positional-Slotted Object-Applicative (PSOA) logic, which integrates object-relational data and knowledge for rules and combines those with taxonomies (subclass ontologies). His most recent work focused on the translation of (PSOA) RuleML and Prolog with the PSOATransRun translator implementation and the visual rule language Grailog for visualizing PSOA RuleML.

A selection of Dr. Boley’s publications:

Harold Boley. 1977. Contributions to a practice-relevant AI theory. SIGART Bull., 61 (February 1977), 35–36. DOI:

Boley, Harold, Said Tabet, and Gerd Wagner. "Design Rationale for RuleML: A Markup Language for Semantic Web Rules." SWWS. Vol. 1. 2001.

Anderson, M., Ball, M., Boley, H., Greene, S., Howse, N., Lemire, D., & McGrath, S. (2003). Racofi: A rule-applying collaborative filtering system. Proc. IEEE/WIC COLA’03, Halifax, Canada, October 2003.

Horrocks, I., Patel-Schneider, P. F., Boley, H., Tabet, S., Grosof, B., & Dean, M. (2004). SWRL: A semantic web rule language combining OWL and RuleML. W3C Member submission, 21(79), 1-31.

Boley, Harold, Adrian Paschke, and Omair Shafiq. "RuleML 1.0: the overarching specification of web rules." International Workshop on Rules and Rule Markup Languages for the Semantic Web. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2010.

Palmirani, M., Governatori, G., Rotolo, A., Tabet, S., Boley, H., & Paschke, A. (2011, November). LegalRuleML: XML-based rules and norms. In International Workshop on Rules and Rule Markup Languages for the Semantic Web (pp. 298-312). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Harold Boley: PSOA RuleML: Integrated Object-Relational Data and Rules. Reasoning Web 2015: 114-150

Thom, Mark, Harold Boley, and Theodoros Mitsikas. "Invertible Bidirectional Metalogical Translation Between Prolog and RuleML for Knowledge Representation and Querying." International Joint Conference on Rules and Reasoning. Springer, Cham, 2020.

In memoriam: Harold Boley

“By showing deep interest, contributing all his knowledge without reservation and his curiosity in all aspects of rules and science, he made everyone feel at home in a very specialized community. I really hope his soul continues to live in the ruleML community. May he rest in peace.“ ~ Silvie Spreeuwenberg

“I was looking forward to hearing more from him. He made so many contributions and motivated others. A loss to us all. Up to us to carry his work on. “ ~Adam Zachary Wyner

“From the first time I came to RuleML, Harold was always so kind and made a real effort to make me feel a part of the RuleML family. I will truly miss him.” ~ Mark Proctor

“Vale Harold. A great loss for our community.” ~ Guido Governatori

“A friend, a mentor and a visionary..... Harold gave us many things and was generous with his time. I am grateful to have worked alongside him as a university colleague and co-supervisor of graduate students. Thank you Harold. Rest in peace. “ ~ Christopher Baker

“I remember Harold vividly from my first RuleML conference back in 2010. He was engaging, kind, and he was a driving force for research and building up this community. May he rest in peace. And may his legacy live for a long long time”. ~ Sotiris Moschoyiannis

“Very sad to hear. He was very kind and dedicated to RuleML. May he rest in peace.” ~ Paul Fodor

“I’m deeply saddened to learn about his sudden death. He devoted much of his life to the RuleML community and had a profound impact on the standardization of rules technologies. He also inspired me a lot as a mentor and friend. I send my deepest condolences to his family.” ~ Adrian Paschke

“He will be a great loss, both to me as a friend, and to the RuleML Community as a whole.” ~ Bob Kowalski

“He was gentle and kind, and yet precise and rigorous in his work. I will miss him greatly, as will all of the RuleML community that he steadily and patiently guided from its inception. May his memory and legacy live on.” ~Leora Morgenstern

“I'm very saddened and shocked to learn of Harold's passing. I will always remember Harold for his kindness and tireless energy and enthusiasm, and for his gracious and generous willingness to help me make my hobby into my profession.” ~Mark Thom

“Very sad to hear. He was a very kind and dedicated person to science, our community. I send my deepest condolences to his family.” ~ Kia Teymourian

“He will be missed both as a friend and as a brilliant dedicated and innovative colleague.” ~ Nikos Triantafyllou

“He was always so full of energy that one would never suspect that he was unwell. A terrible loss.“ ~ Michael Kifer

“He was a man full of energy that inspired all of us. He was very generous especially to younger scientists, giving them the floor to flourish. We will remember him dearly.” ~ Nick Bassiliades

“A big loss. Such a kind and generous person. We indeed need an award named after him.” ~Jan Vanthienen

“Each person should have a list of people who have changed their lives. Harold is on my list. May he rest in peace” ~ Adrian Giurca

“I am very sad to hear about this big and sudden loss. Harold was a driving force behind the rules community and we will feel his absence. May he rest in peace.” ~ Diego Calvanese

“Harold was always helpful and pushed things forward...we'll miss you Harold!” ~Dumitru Roman

“You will not be forgotten, and your legacy will live on.” ~Davide Sottara

“He was a kind and dedicated person. He will be greatly missed!” ~Ahmet Soylu

“I am very sorry to hear of this unexpected loss. My heartfelt condolences to his family. He will be remembered.” ~Martin Müller

“I knew Harold for years and had many interesting conversations with him about knowledge management and an integrated use of semantic web and rules-based decisioning. He devoted a lot of effort to bring academic results to practical business applications and to keep our communities together. He coined the term ‘Declarative AI’ and I hope we will continue this trend always remembering Harold’s contribution.” ~ Jacob Feldman

“Harold was certainly the most generous researcher I have come across. He sought to help and motivate, he invested his time and energy with uncompromising passion and in a truly selfless manner. I will miss our occasional chats about hypergraphs and logic.” ~ Borislav Iordanov

“What a sudden and big loss to all of us! Harold was such enthusiastic researchers and at the same time a wonderfully warm and welcoming human. It was a pleasure to talk to him and I enjoyed his enthusiasm for rule-based reasoning. He was always willing to teach and mentor if one had questions and he was also open to learn about new things and discuss how they could fit into his research. He left us much too early and he will be missed and remembered. “ ~ Grit Denker

"Very sad and shocked about this unexpected loss. Harald was a wonderful and very kind person, always deeply insightful, a real pillar of the RuleML community, and very welcoming and supporting of newcomers to this community. He always had some great pointers or advice for related research. He will be missed immensely." ~ Michael Wessel

“I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Harold. He was in many ways a very special person, full of enthusiasm and energy, and kind and welcoming. This is a great loss to the community as a whole and he will be missed.” ~ Alexander Steen

“A big loss not only for RuleML but for the whole KR community. I will always remember his kindness, his energy, his devotion to RuleML and his encouragement and generosity to young researchers.” ~ Antonis Bikakis

"I have known Harold for many years, and collaborated with him as a colleague and friend. His unique, kind and determined character, and his passion for RuleML and KR will be severely missed. Rest In Peace, Harold." ~ Christoph Benzmüller

"Harold was my close collaborator during 2000-2005 while we co-founded and co-chaired the RuleML Initiative, and developed and evangelized the RuleML standards design -- along with related semantic rules standards designs and approaches including SWRL, W3C RIF, and Semantic Web Services Framework -- as well as the RuleML[+RR] conference. He was remarkably energetic, devoted, and persistent. He really made a difference in the semantic rules community. I will miss him, as a colleague and as a friend." ~ Benjamin Grosof