About Rob Shearer

This is the personal site of Rob Shearer, a computing researcher and software engineer.


I am currently a researcher in the Information Systems Group at the Oxford University Computing Laboratory. My main research interest is efficient and scalable reasoning systems for very expressive description logics, including the logic which forms the theoretical foundation of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Ontology Language (OWL). In addition to my theoretical work, I am a part of the team developing HermiT, a reasoner for OWL ontologies. More information on my current research is available at my university site.

Before coming to Oxford I did similar research at the University of Manchester as a member of Manchester’s Information Management Group and that group’s Description Logic clique. While there, I managed the “Semantic Web Language Extensions” work package (number 2.5) of the EU KnowledgeWeb project, and in most cases served as Manchester’s representative within other work packages.

Prior to that, I developed the Cerebra reasoner while leading technology development at a small start-up company (called Network Inference and located in London when I joined, and called Cerebra, Inc. and located in Carlsbad, California when I left). The company was subsequently acquired by WebMethods, which in turn became a part of SoftwareAG; I have no idea what the status of the Cerebra reasoner is these days. During my time there I had some involvement with the W3C RDF Data Access Working Group, which went on to produce SPARQL.

I also spent a few years with Transversal in Cambridge, England, working on adapting natural language processing technologies to the problems of web content management.


In addition to my research appointment, I am also a DPhil student in computing at Oxford University and hope to submit my thesis in 2010.

I am a member of Linacre College, and have been president of Linacre’s Common Room since 2009.

For reasons even I have trouble fully understanding, I remain a member of the Oxford University Athletics Club, and have represented the club in a number of competitions for which they couldn’t find anybody else willing to show up, in events ranging from hurdles to pole vault to hammer throw, although discus is the only event in which I’m really competent. I was the squad leader for Oxford’s throwers through the 2008–2009 season.

In my younger days I attended Brown University, where I founded and served as president for Technology House, the university’s first and only technology-focused residential society.

I grew up in Rhode Island but have spent most of my time in the UK since early 2001.

If you want to buy me a gift, I like motorcycles.


Feel free to contact me on Twitter or through email via unsolicited@v.cx; try not to sound too spammy so that the filters let you through. I can also be reached through the university and via HermiT’s corporate site.