Capturing and Answering Questions Posed to a Knowledge-Based System


Clark, P., Chaw, S.-Y., Barker, K., Chaudhri, V., Harrison, P., Fan, J., John, B., Porter, B., Spaulding, A., Thompson, J., Yeh, P.Z. Capturing and Answering Questions Posed to a Knowledge-Based System. Proceedings of The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge Capture (K-CAP), October 2007.


As part of the ongoing project, Project Halo, our goal is to build a system capable of answering questions posed by novice users to a formal knowledge base. In our current context, the knowledge base covers selected topics in physics, chemistry, and biology, and our question set consists of AP (advanced high-school) level examination questions. The task is challenging because the questions are linguistically complex and are often incomplete (assume unstated knowledge), and because the users do not have prior knowledge of the system’s contents. Our solution involves two parts: a controlled language interface, in which users reformulate the original natural language questions in a simplified version of English, and a novel problem solver that can elaborate initially inadequate logical interpretations of a question by selecting relevant pieces of knowledge in the knowledge base. An evaluation of the work in 2006 showed that this approach is feasible and that complex, multisentence questions can be posed and answered, thus illustrating novel ways of dealing with the knowledge capture impedance between users and a formal knowledge base, while also revealing challenges that still remain.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence Center, AIC, Controlled language, problem solving, question answering, knowledge-based systems

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