Dr. Ora Lassila

I am a Principal Graph Technologist in the Amazon Neptune team at AWS, mostly focusing on knowledge graphs. Earlier, I was a Managing Director at State Street, where I headed ontology engineering. Good part of my career I have worked on AI, ontologies, the Semantic Web, graphs, and applications of these technologies to various problems, including mobile and ubiquitous computing (IoT) at the Nokia Research Center (NRC) and subsequently at Nokia Location & Commerce (later renamed HERE). I have been involved in various Semantic Web activities since 1996, and worked on various complex applications involving Knowledge Representation (KR) for a good 10 years prior to that. For more biographical notes, see here.

Ora Lassila


Lately, I have spent more time on getting my aviation photography and publishing business So Many Aircraft off the ground (pun intended). I am also a member of the International Society for Aviation Photography, the Vertical Flight Society, the International Plastic Modelers' Society, and the Finnish Aviation Museum Association; I am an information technology advisor to the New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society.

Lists of my publications and presentations are available. Occasionally, albeit very seldom, I write something in my blog. Mostly my spare time is spent building scale models.

Past life

I was a co-author of the original W3C RDF specification, and co-authored the seminal article on the Semantic Web (now well over 26,000 citations). I also worked on Semantic Web services.

I was the creator of NRC's Semantic Web toolkit (dubbed "Wilbur"), written in Common Lisp. The toolkit provided a main-memory triple store (with RDFS reasoning), a path query language ("WilburQL"), and means of loading and parsing RDF/XML. My most recent Wilbur-related work focused on OINK (a browser for RDF data) and Piglet (an embeddable reimplementation of Wilbur in Python and C++).

I have a long history of participation in various committees, boards and working groups:

  • I was an elected member of the W3C's Advisory Board from the board's inception in 1998 until 2013; I was also Nokia's representative to W3C's Advisory Committee in 1998-2002.
  • I was a member of the technical advisory boards of ILOG (subsequently acquired by IBM), IntelliSeek (subsequently BuzzMetrics, acquired by Nielsen), Cerebra (formerly Network Inference, acquired by WebMethods) and Eizel (acquired by Nokia).
  • I was a member of the Steering Committee of the Semantic Web Science Association