Natural Language Interface Gems

The Conversation Machine (1959?)

L. Green, E. Berkeley, C. Gotlieb

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The Oracle (1960?)

A.V. Philips / MIT

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PLM (1961?)
The Picture Language Machine

R. Kirsch, D. Cohen, B. Rankin, W. Sillars / Carnegie Institute of Technology

PLM accepts both pictures and English statements as input and translates both into a common logical language. Then it determines whether the statement about the picture is true. It is composed of three subsystems: a parser, a formalizer and a predicate evaluator. The formalizer creates a first-order functional calculus expression like (∀X1)[ Cir(X1) → (∃X2)[ Cir(X2) & Bk(X2) & (X2 = X1) ] ]. The predicate evaluator tests the truth value of the expression against the predicate representation of the pictures in the input.

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ALA (1962?)
The Automatic Language Analyzer

Householder, Lyons, Thorne / Indiana University

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The General Inquirer (1962?)

P. Stone / Harvard University

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Baseball (1963?)

Bert F. Green, Jr., Alice K. Wolf, Carol Chomsky, Kenneth Laughery

Baseball answers questions about the scores, teams, locations and dates of baseball games. It uses list structures to organize data. The input questions are restricted to single clauses. The parser creates a tree structure of word groups. The semantic analyzer builds a spec list from the parsed question. With this spec list the acceptable answers are located. The logical processor processes the aggregations for 'every', 'either' and 'how many'.

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Protosynthex (1963?)

Simmons, McConlogue, Klein / SDC

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SAD SAM (1963?)
Sentence Appraiser and Diagrammer and Semantic Analyzing Machine

R. Lindsay / Carnegie Institute of Technology

SAD SAM answers questions about human relationships. Lindsay's primary interest was in machine comprehension of English. SAD SAM reads Basic English sentences about family relationships and extracts from them data for the database. The database is in the form of a family tree represented in the program by a hierarchical set of lists.
The system has a parser and a semantic analyzer. The parser handles simple sentences, relative clauses and some appositional strings and forms a (phrase structure) parse tree.
The semantic analyzer searches for subject-complement combinations (i.e. Bill is Mary's father) and forms triplets (i.e. Bill (father) Mary)

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SIR (1964? - 1964)
Semantic Information Retriever

Bertram Raphael / MIT

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SQA (1964?)
The Specific Question Answerer

F. Black / BBN

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DEACON (1965?)
Direct English Access and CONtrol

F. Thomson, J. Graig / General Electric, TEMPO

DEACON uses a list-structured database of military shipments. It does not break neatly into a parsing system, a semantic analyzer and a data processor. The sentence is being processed while it is parsed. For example the rule L1 = M + L : T1(M, L) means that when the combination of word classes M + L is found, substitute for L1 the list which is generated by T1 operating to extract the sublist M from the major list L.

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SHRDLU (1968 - 1970)
The name SHRDLU was derived from ETAOIN SHRDLU, the arrangement of the alpha keys on a Linotype machine, arranged in descending order of usage frequency in English.

Terry Winograd / MIT

This is one of the first NLI systems ever created, and at the same time one of the most complete. In fact, it has long served as the major showcase for natural language processing.

Books

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REL (1969?)

Bozena H. Dostert, Frederick B. Thomson

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LUNAR (1971)

William A. Woods / BBN

It was created in the wake of the Apollo 11 space mission that brought the first men to the moon. The soil samples that came back were catalogued in a database and LUNAR allowed this database to be queried with plain English sentences.

Books

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RENDEZVOUS (1974 - 1977)
To rendezvous (i.e. "meet") with the casual user

Edgar F. Codd, Robert S. Arnold, Jean-Marc Cadiou, Chin-Liang Chang, Nick Roussopoulos / IBM

Created by the inventor of the relational database, E.F. Codd, this system was designed to meet the quirks of the casual user as much as possible.

The user was allowed to enter one or more sentences, or sentence-parts. He or she was allowed to make mistakes and add and change the restrictions of the question later. The system had a very extended clarification dialog aimed to make sure that the system understood exactly what the user meant. For the same reason, it had extensive support for paraphrasing the generated knowledge base query so as to be comprehensible to the user.

In contrast to other systems, this system does not parse the user's sentence into a parse tree.
In stead, using conditional rules, patterns of words were interpreted directly as parts of a relational query.

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EUFID (1976 - 1981)
End-User Friendly Interface to Data management

Marjorie Templeton, John F. Burger / SDC

It makes the distinction between the user's view and the database's view on application data. This leads to the distinct position that the interpretation of a question goes through two separate domain specific phases. First the question is interpreted in a domain specific way that leads to a representation of the user's view of the domain. Next this representation is transformed into the database's view of the question.

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Veronica Dahl's systems (1976 - 1981?)

Veronica Dahl

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Lifer (1977?)

Gary G. Hendrix

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ROBOT (1977?)

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Ladder (1978?)

Gary G. Hendrix, Earl D. Sacerdoti, Doniel Sagalowicz, Jonathan Slocum

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Planes (1978?)

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Rus (1978?)

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TEAM (1980 - 1984)
Transportable English Database Access Medium

Barbara J. Grosz, Douglas E. Appelt, Fernando C.N. Pereira, David H.D. Warren, Paul Martin, Armar Archbold, Robert C. Moore, Jerry Hobbs, Jane J. Robinson, Daniel Sagalowicz / SRI

TEAM is the first system that could be used in a new domain by users that had no technical knowledge of the system. Users did not need to have any linguistic knowledge. A database expert with knowledge of the database was all that was needed to transport the system to a new domain.

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Chat-80 (1981 - 1982)

David H.D. Warren, Fernando C.N. Pereira / SRI

Together with the system of Veronica Dahl, on which it is based, these are the first NLI systems built in Prolog. The code of Chat-80 was circulated widely, and formed the basis of several other experimental NliDbs (e.g. Masque)

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TQA (1981?)

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IR-NLI (1982?)

Giovanni Guida, Carlo Tasso

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Ask (1983?)

Bozena H. Thompson, Frederick B. Thompson

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Ginsparg (1983?)

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NLMenu (1983?)

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PHLIQA1 (1983?)

Remko J.H. Scha

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Pique (1983?)

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Datalog (1984?)

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Intellect (1984?)

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LDC-1 (1984?)

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Pre (1985?)

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CLE (1986 - 1989)
Core Language Engine

Hiyan Alshawi, David Carter, Jan van Eijk, Björn Gambäck, Robert C. Moore, Douglas B. Moran, Fernando C.N. Pereira, Stephen G. Pulman, Manny Rayner, Arnold G. Smith / SRI, CUCL

CLE distinguishes several distinct stages in the processing of the semantic representation.
CLE uses unification for semantic composition.

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IRUS (1986?)

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Masque (1986?)

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Teli (1986?)

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JANUS (1989?)

Philip Resnik, Erhard W. Hinrichs, Ralph M. Weischedel, Marie Meteer, Lance Ramshaw, Jeff Palmucci, Damaris M. Ayuso, Robert J. Bobrow

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Wisber (1989?)

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Loqui (1991?)

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SNAP (1991?)

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ThoughtTreasure (1994 - 1996)
"ThoughtTreasure was originally called ThoughtTrésor, where trésor is the French word for treasury (treasure as well). The idea was that the system would be a treasury of thoughts. The combination of English and French in the name reflected the fact that the system supported both English and French. This original name was difficult for English speakers to pronounce, so I changed the name to ThoughtTreasure. ThoughtTreasury contained an extra syllable and didn't sound right to me." -- Erik T. Mueller

Erik T. Mueller

This system integrates a natural language component in a full-blown AI architecture that includes scripts, spatial orientation, planning, understanding, and even emotions. It also has a wide support for various natural language constructs. It makes commonsense reasoning explicit in the form of understanding agents.

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START (2002?)

Boris Katz, Gary Borchardt, Sue Felshin, Deniz Yuret, Ali Ibrahim, Jimmy Lin, Gregory Marton, Alton Jerome McFarland, Baris Temelkuran, Yuan Shen, Gabriel Zaccak

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CALO (2003 - 2008)
Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes. The name was inspired by the Latin word "calonis," which means "soldier’s servant."

about 250 people / SRI (and many others)

It is part of the largest NLI attempt in history, the SRI / DARPA project PAL, and was an important influence for the popular commercial system SIRI.

Its main function is that of meeting planner. It integrates heterogeneous knowledge sources that each return subgoals or ground facts.

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ORAKEL (2004 - 2007)

Philipp Cimiano, Peter Haase, Jörg Heizmann, Matthias Mantel, Rudi Studer / Universität Karlsruhe

ORAKEL is a modern variant of TEAM.

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NaLIX (2005?)

Yunyao Li, Huahai Yang, H. V. Jagadish

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Ephyra (2006?)

N. Schlaefer, P. Gieselmann, G. Sautter

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C-PHRASE (2008 - 2014)
"Thus analysis components must be robust, seeking out near misses when input is less than ideal and the system must be adaptable, making it easy for authors to patch running systems to catch unanticipated phrasings. The name C-Phrase is derived from ‘catch phrase’, which we interpret literally as ‘catching phrases’."

Michael Minock / Umeå University

Based on tuple calculus.

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References

Much of the information in this text was drawn from: