This introduction presents the main motivations for the development of Description Logics (DL) as a formalism for representing knowledge, as well as some important basic notions underlying all systems that have been created in the DL tradition. In addition, we provide the reader with an overview of the entire book and some guidelines for reading it. We first address the relationship between Description Logics and earlier semantic network and frame systems, which represent the original heritage of the field. We delve into some of the key problems encountered with the older efforts. Subsequently, we introduce the basic features of Description Logic languages and related reasoning techniques. Description Logic languages are then viewed as the core of knowledge representation systems, considering both the structure of a DL knowledge base and its associated reasoning services. The development of some implemented knowledge representation systems based on Description Logics and the first applications built with such systems are then reviewed. Finally, we address the relationship of Description Logics to other fields of Computer Science. We also discuss some extensions of the basic representation language machinery; these include features proposed for incorporation in the formalism that originally arose in implemented systems, and features proposed to cope with the needs of certain application domains.