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Natural Language for Expert Systems: Comparisons with Database Systems

McKeown, Kathleen

Do natural language database systems still provide a valuable environment for further work on natural language processing? Are there other systems which provide the same hard environment for testing, but allow us to explore more interesting natural language questions? In order to answer no to the first question and yes to the second (the position taken by our panel's chair), there must be an interesting language problem which is more naturally studied in some other system than in the database system. We are currently working on natural language for expert systems at Columbia and thus, expert systems provide a natural alternative environment to compare against the database system. The relatively recent success of expert systems in commercial environments (e.g., Stolfo and Vesonder 83, McDermott 81) indicates that they meet the criteria of a hard test environment. In our work, we are particularly interested in developing the ability to generate explanations that are tailored to the user of the system based on the previous discourse in order to do this in an interesting way. We assume that explanation will be part of natural language dialog with the system, allowing the user maximum flexibility in interacting with the system and allowing the system maximum opportunity to provide different explanations.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-091-84
Published Here
October 26, 2011