Course Title:               Geoinformatics (Geol 4123/6123)
Fall 2013
Department:               Geosciences
Prerequisite: None.
The course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary!

Instructor: Dr. H. A. Babaie

Office: Sparks Hall, Room A-454
Phone: 404 413-5766
Fax: 404 413-5768

Office Hours: Tues 2-4:00

Textbook and other required course materials:
NOTE: Buy used books only if they come with the intact CDROM and DVD that the new books have; You need the data on the DVD and CDROM to do your exercises! Otherwise, buy new books!

1. Python Scripting for ArcGIS by Paul A. Zandbergen (Jan 9, 2013).
Make sure that it comes with intact CDROM and DVD!

2. GIS Tutorial 3: Advanced Workbook by David W. Allen and Jeffery M. Coffey (Sep 15, 2010). Make sure that it comes with intact CDROM and DVD!

3. A Developer's Guide to the Semantic Web by Liyang Yu (Jan 5, 2011)

4. PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide (4th Ed.), Larry Ullman (Author)

Requirement: You must have an ESRI license to ArcGIS 10 (you can get it from Jack Reed) to work on the spatial database and phython projects using your personal laptop; otherwise, you have to use the Geospatial Lab! All other applications can be downloaded to your laptop permanently for free if they are open access (e.g, Protege, AgroUML) or on a temporary basis (e.g., XMLSpy).

Login to course’s website: Click on ‘Geoinforamtics’ under "Courses Taught" on my website at:

Course assignments:  See the ‘Schedule of lectures and assignments’ below!


  • Please advise the instructor if you have a documented disability that needs to be accommodated!
  • Make sure to know the last day to withdraw from a course with the possibility of receiving a ‘W’ (given in the Academic Calendar).  If a student withdraws by this date but is failing the course, he/she will receive a ‘WF”. All students who withdraw after this date will receive a ‘WF’.

Course’s description: Fundamentals of geoscience knowledge representation applying Semantic Web technologies of OWL, RDF, and RDFS.  Design and development of spatial and process ontologies, design of markup languages.   

Learning outcome: Having taken this course, the students should be able to design and develop database, knowledge base, and efficient Semantic Web applications based on OWL for different fields of geosciences.

Objectives of the course: Upon successfully completing the course, students of this course should be able to do or explain the following:

  • Applying predicate logic in knowledge representation
  • Inferencing and reasoning with description logic
  • Partitioning of the reality – classifying the real objects in a geological field of interest
  • Mereotopology
  • Knowledge representation, semantics, and pragmatics
  • Design and development of domain ontologies
  • Design and development of databases
  • Learning the Python scripting language for ArcGIS
  • The concepts of foundational ontological relations, object, property, state, space, and time
  • Building domain markup languages with XML
  • Semantic Web languages of RDF, RDFS, and OWL
  • Implementing ontologies with the Protégé IDE
  • Constructing process and time ontologies

Topics to be covered:

  • Data, information, knowledge
  • Mereology, topology, predicate logic
  • Spatial ontology: endurant objects, state space, property
  • Design and development of relational databases
  • Design and development of spatial databases
  • Scripting Python with ArcCatalog
  • Process ontology: perdurant objects, state change, event, process, time
  • Semantics and pragmatics
  • Extensible Markup Language (XML)
  • Modeling ontologies with Protégé
  • Syntax and inference rules of the Semantic web languages (OWL, RDF, RDFS)
  • Design and implementation of ontologies and knowledge base

Schedule of lectures and assignments: See the "Lectures" page

Grading policy:
The final grade will be determined with respect to the weights assigned to various exams and other assignments which are listed below. Notice the difference between the grading of undergraduate and graduate students' work! Graduate students must write and present two research papers (no credit for presentations!).

Geol 4123 (Undergraduate)   Geol 6123 (Graduate)
Exams / Assignments




Exams / Assignments



1st Exam:




1st Exam:



2nd Exam




2nd Exam



Final Exam




Final Exam



Research Paper 100 10   Research Papers 1 & 2 050 05





Presentations of one paper



9 Exercises




9 Exercises










Optional talk 050 05        
Possible with optional talk 1050 105        

Grading scheme (% grade):












93.0- 95.9









Final grades will not be posted or given out over the phone or via email.
NOTE: You will see the final grades after you have completed the course evaluations on GoSolar.

Method of Teaching:  The course focuses on knowledge representation and the methods of modeling, ontologies and related knowledge bases in geoscience.  To more effectively expose the students to these important components of geoscience knowledge representation, the course is taught through class lectures, 3 exams, and 8 modeling and programming (logic, XML, RDF, RDFS, OWL) exercises.

Lectures - Students are responsible for learning my lecture notes (handed out in the class) and material from the assigned textbook. Students also need to have the Protégé ontology editor (available at:  To complete the exercises and use the course content, the students also need an XML IDE and a UML modeling application (e.g., IBM’s Rational Rose).


1. According to the Georgia State University undergraduate catalog, class attendance is expected; failure to attend classes regularly may result in poor course performance. The university requires instructors to verify attendance early in the term. Failure to attend classes may result in you not appearing on the Verification Roll and being dropped from the class. Please see section 1334 of the catalog at, and click on the appropriate catalog link to read about attendance policy (posted as a .pdf file).

2. All students should be familiar with the University’s course withdrawal procedures. These can be found in section 1332 of the undergraduate catalog.

3. All students are required to be familiar with the Academic Honesty policy of the university (Section 409) and to comply with the policy. This can be found in section 1380 of the undergraduate catalog.

4. Each student must have access to a computer to read all the messages sent to his/her university email address, and complete all assignments that require the use of a computer.  Class changes and/or updates may be conveyed via email, in which case the student is considered to have been informed. The student is required to check this university email box regularly.

5. Accommodations for students with disabilities: Georgia State University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students with disabilities who seek academic accommodations must first take appropriate documentation to the Office of Disability Services located in Suite 230 of the New Student Center.

Course Policy

Turn off cell phones and keep them off the desk during lectures.  Text messaging or Web browsing during class is strictly prohibited and grounds for dismissal.

Food and drinks are prohibited in class. 

Exams: Include the assigned reading material from class lectures, textbook, and exercises.

Missing Exams: DO NOT miss the scheduled exams unless you have a doctor's or official university excuse which proves an emergency case. It is the student's responsibility to contact me within two days after missing the exam for setting a date for a make-up exam. If acceptable, a make-up exam will be given within 4 days after the date of the missed exam. If the scheduled make-up exam is missed, there will be no second opportunity (for any possible reason) and a zero will be assigned for that exam.

Course Evaluations: Student Course Evaluations will be filled out online at GoSolar (
When you go to the student GoSOLAR screen, one of your link choices will be the evaluations.

E-mail Contact - All students have a GSU e-mail address that looks like:
This is the address I will use when I need to contact you, either individually or as a class. You are responsible for reading any requirements, changes, announcements, etc. that are sent to you via this e-mail address. Hence, you should check it at least once daily. If you prefer to use other e-mail account(s), you must activate the mail forwarding feature under Options>Mailbox Management while in your GSU e-mail, so that e-mail from me will reach whatever other e-mail account(s) you have specified. I emphasize that you are responsible for this. To read about your GSU e-mail account, go to: