Strategies for Natural Language Processing

By Wendy G. Lehnert; Martin H. Ringle | Go to book overview

9
Beyond Question Answering

Philip R. Cohen* Bolt, Beranek, and Newman, Inc.

C. Raymond Perrault University of Torronto

James F. Allen University of Rochester


INTRODUCTION

Judging from the number of implemented systems, one might conclude that the predominant application of natural-language processing technology is question answering (QA), usually from a highly structured data base. Recent systems have demonstrated enough robustness and coverage in their chosen subsets of natural language that users can accomplish significant work. Although applauding the impressive results as a benchmark for future systems, we claim that interaction with current question-answering systems lacks naturalness, and that the structure of these systems imposes blinders on the development of other applications of natural-language processing. This chapter both supports these claims and proposes a more general architecture for such systems, viewing question-answering as a special case of natural-language dialogue.

We demonstrate, using protocols of actual interactions with a questionanswering system, that users of these systems expect more than just answers to isolated questions. They expect to engage in a conversation whose coherence is manifested in the interdependence of their often unstated plans and goals with those of the system.1 They also expect the system to be able to incorporate its own responses into analyses of their subsequent utterances. Moreover, they maintain these expectations even in the face of strong evidence that the system is not a competent conversationalist. We propose a program of research designed to

____________________
*
Now at Department of Computer Science, Oregon State University.
1
The reader who is uncomfortable attributing mental states to machines should see Dennett, 1978; McCarthy, 1979.

-245-

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Strategies for Natural Language Processing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Abstracts xvii
  • I - Introduction 1
  • 1 - The State of the Art In Natural-Language Understanding 3
  • Acknowledgments 30
  • References 30
  • II - Implementation Issues 33
  • 2 - Realistic Language Comprehension 37
  • References 53
  • 3 - Natural Communication Between Person and Computer 55
  • Acknowledgments 86
  • References 86
  • 4 - Parsing and Comprehending With Word Experts (a Theory And Its Realization) 89
  • Acknowledgments 147
  • References 147
  • 5 - An Overview of the Frump System 149
  • Acknowledgments 175
  • References 175
  • 6 - A Framework for Conceptual Analyzers 177
  • References 196
  • III - Conversation And Discourse 199
  • 7 - Conversation Failure 203
  • References 220
  • 8 - Towards an Understanding Of Coherence in Discourse 223
  • Acknowledgments 242
  • References 242
  • 9 - Beyond Question Answering 245
  • Acknowledgments 271
  • References 271
  • 10 - Adversary Arguments and The Logic of Personal Attacks 275
  • Acknowledgments 293
  • References 294
  • IV - Knowledge Representation 295
  • 11 - Inference and Learning In Computer Model of The Development of Language Comprehension in a Young Child 299
  • Acknowledgments 325
  • References 325
  • 12 - Inferring Building Blocks For Knowledge Representation 327
  • Acknowledgments 343
  • References 343
  • 13 - Points: A Theory of the Structure Of Stories in Memory 345
  • References 373
  • 14 - Plot Units: a Narrative Summarization Strategy 375
  • Acknowledgments 411
  • References 411
  • V - Theoretical Issues 413
  • 15 - Metaphor: an Inescapable Phenomenon In Natural-Language Comprehension 415
  • Acknowledgments 432
  • References 433
  • 16 - Context Recognition In Language Cornprehension 435
  • Acknowledgments 453
  • References 453
  • 17 - Reminding and Memory Organization: an Introduction To Mops 455
  • Acknowledgments 493
  • References 493
  • 18 - Some Thoughts on Procedural Semantics 495
  • Acknowledgments 515
  • Notes on Contributors 517
  • Subject Index 523
  • Index 529
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