Research and Development in Natural Language Understanding as Part of the Strategic Computing Program
Annual technical rept. Dec 1987-Dec 1988
BBN SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGIES CORP CAMBRIDGE MA
Pagination or Media Count:
This report describes in depth on area of the research conducted at BBN during 1988 as part of DARPAs Strategic Computing Program. This work explored the use of a model of the plans and goals of the user of a computer system to increase the robustness of the systems natural language understanding component. Many examples of ill-formedness that people routinely and easily correct can be resolved by a natural language system only if it makes use of knowledge of the pragmatic context. This investigation centers around examples of alias errors, where the ill-formedness is due to a single word that is incorrect but still lexically understood, as with the substitution of on for in in the phrase stay on good shape. Localizing and resolving such errors frequently depends on pragmatic knowledge. This thesis presents a model for pragmatic context within expert advising dialogues, where an agent who is building a plan to solve a problem consults with a domain expert, and develops methods for applying that model to resolving ill-formed input. This approach has been implemented in a system called Pragma, which suggest corrections based on pragmatic context for alias errors in naval domain queries, using techniques that could also be extended to other classes of ill-formedness and to generating cooperative responses. Pragma demonstrated that a model capturing the pragmatic structure of a particular discourse setting can be used to increase the robustness of a natural language interface. Natural language processing Plan recognition Metaplans Ill-formed input Robustness Artificial intelligence Discourse.