Knowledgebase vs Database

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The difference between a:


and a


M-C Jenkins (

Data is extracted and displayed

This is the database model

XKCD comic image

Knowledge is learning & answering

This is the knowledgebase model

XKCD comic image

'Data is not information; information is not knowledge; knowledge is not wisdom'

I have the answer

I've have the files



What is Knowledge?

Cognition: the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning (WordNet)

Relevant information that one is able to recall from memory; All cognitive expectancies that an individual or organization actor uses to interpret situations and to generate activities; A specific body of knowledge of any kind, on some subject or in some field; (Wiktionary)

What is Data?

A collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn; (WordNet)

Data is a collection of facts, figures and statistics related to an object. Data can be processed to create useful information. (Blurtit)

Data is information that has been translated into a form that is more convenient to move or process. (Techtarget)

What is a Knowledgebase?

A knowledge base is a special kind of database for knowledge management. It provides the means for the computerized collection, organization, and retrieval of knowledge. (wiki)

A knowledge base attempts to capture in abstract (machine interpretable) form a useful representation of a physical or virtual world. (expertise2go)

Captures human knowledge and places it into a computer system where it is used to solve complex problems normally requiring a high level of human expertise. (Wiley)

Knowledge engineering is:

Knowledge engineering. The process of codifying an expert's knowledge in a form that can be accessed through an expert system. (expertise2go)

knowledge engineering: The discipline concerned with the application of computer systems to problems of human endeavour such as thinking, learning, problem solving, decision making, and knowledge transfer. (


Data are raw facts.

Information is data with context and perspective.

Knowledge is information with guidance for action based upon insight and experience.

(University of Melbourne)

What is a Database?

An organized body of related information (WordNet)

A database is a structured collection of records or data (Wikipedia)

A collection of information organized in such a way that a computer program can quickly select desired pieces of data. You can think of a database as an electronic filing system. (webopedia)

What is a Knowledgebase again?

Machine-readable knowledge bases store knowledge in a computer-readable form, usually for the purpose of having automated deductive reasoning applied to them (Wikipedia)

A knowledge base is not a static collection of information, but a dynamic resource that may itself have the capacity to learn, as part of an artificial intelligence expert system (Techtarget)

It is an expert system, it uses artificial intelligence as well as data stored inside it to give answers and not simply a list of data resources. (Me)


Knowledge can be used to change the intelligence agent's status because of the learning process involved, but data cannot.

Data-based systems are only process data and don't output information.

"The LHC indeed will produce oceans and oceans of data, but the amount of knowledge will be much smaller." (Cognections)

Knowledgebase challenges...

Knowledge is dynamic. It changes all the time.

Its value and quality change all the time.

The sources of input information is gathered from multiple sources. These sources change all the time.

The knowledge base changes all the time because the new knowledge changes it.

This information or data requires different storage and processing solutions.

And so...

Things are not known by one single person or even one single group, it is cumulative. We need to access far more sources of information than for database systems.

Knowledgebases are much smarter than databases because they process data and use expert knowledge to give answers, recommendations, and expert advice.

AT&T explain the difference...

"Apparatus and methods for integrating a knowledge base management system with a data base system. The knowledge base management system employs compositional descriptions which describe information in terms of concepts. A translation component of the apparatus translates compositional descriptions into data base queries, so that information matching a compositional description may be retrieved from the data base. The translation component further permits display of the retrieved data in terms of the compositional description. The returned information can be automatically integrated into the knowledge base, either item by item or on the basis of the compositional description which was used to return the information."

Patent assignee AT&T

WolframAlpha say...

Knowledge bases are composed of a complex web of bits of knowledge that are all linked together and apart (as in explicitly not linked). The fact the WA will not only process your query but also do the mathematical calculation for you, present you with equations, compute things for you and much more shows that it does indeed deal with knowledge and not data. There is no list of resources, there is an answer. This answer will be in the form of information for you (statistics, graphs etc...) and this is extracted from knowledge. Experience that the system has with with world knowledge.


It has a large database composed of indexed resources and containing lots of information about those. It is issued with a query and presents a list of relevant resources. It gives you data.


The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine


"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

"Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries."

So now you can see...

A database system is different to a knowledgebase system. A KB system is smarter.

Google (although they no doubt run KB's for other things) does not give an answer, it gives resources (data).

Wolfram gives answers, and has a knowledgebase, which makes it a knowledge engine

These engines are different beasts:

Google is a search engine

WolframAlpha is a knowledge engine


Stanford's Protege Knowledgebase tool

Build a knowledge base with OWL

Ontologies and Knowledge Bases (Nicola Guarino)

Real Time Information is Just Data, Knowledge Comes Later