Unknown Value Lists and Their Use for Semantic Analysis in IDA - the Integrated Deductive Approach to Natural Language Interface Design

Werner Winiwarter
Institute of Applied Computer Science & Information Systems, Dept. of Information Engineering, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 4/3, A-1010 Wien, Austria.


The framework of our research originates from natural language processing and deductive database technology. Deductive databases possess superior functionality relevant to the efficient solution of many problems in practical applications, yet there still exists no broad acquaintance. As main obstacle we identified the absence of any user-friendly interface. Natural language interfaces have been proposed as optimal candidate, however, in spite of the vast number of ambitious attempts to build natural language front ends, the achieved results were rather disappointing. In our opinion the main reason for this is missing integration, responsible for insufficient performance and wrong interpretation. In our Integrated Deductive Approach (IDA) the interface constitutes an integral part of the database system itself which guarantees the consistent mapping from the user query to the appropriate semantic application model. This paper focuses on the semantic analysis for which we introduce unknown value list (UVL) analysis, a technique that operates directly on the evaluation of ! database values and deep forms of functional words, that is, syntactic analysis is only applied if necessary for disambiguation. We prove the feasibility of the IDA approach by use of a case study, the design and implementation of a production planning and control system.

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