Musil-logoThe Muenster Semantic Interoperability Lab (MUSIL) is a competence center at the Institute for Geoinformatics of the University of Muenster.  Its mission is to improve the usability of geospatial information by enabling semantic interoperability (Kuhn 2007, Janowicz 2010). Its research focuses on the design and use of ontologies, folksonomies, similarity measures, context models, and conceptual spaces.


The overall research goal of MUSIL is to create a theory of semantic reference systems (Kuhn 2003Janowicz & Scheider 2010). These systems serve to ground symbols used in geospatial information and to translate data from one reference system to another. Spatial reference systems, which serve to ground and translate locational information, are a special case of semantic reference systems.

Our research methods are interdisciplinary, integrating ideas from the

  • geosciences (e.g., models from application domains)
  • computing sciences (e.g., logics, formal specifications, ontologies)
  • cognitive sciences (e.g., cognitive semantics, conceptual integration)
  • social network science (e.g., models of trust or privacy).

The Name “MUSIL”

Robert Musil, 1880 – 1942, Austrian novelist.

A theme in Musil’s masterpiece, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, is the question of how being precise (Musil was an engineer, the main figure Ulrich in the novel is a mathematician) and human go together. Thus, Musil seemed like a suitable name patron for our research, in which we are trying to integrate ideas from the formal, human, and social sciences.