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New Directions in Question Answering

Major trends in the development of an important new method of information access that combines elements of natural language processing, information retrieval, and human computer interaction. Question answering systems, which provide natural language responses to natural language queries, are the subject of rapidly advancing research encompassing both academic study and commercial applications, the most well-known of which is the search engine Ask Jeeves. Question answering draws on different fields and technologies, including natural language processing, information retrieval, explanation generation, and human computer interaction. Question answering creates an important new method of information access and can be seen as the natural step beyond such standard Web search methods as keyword query and document retrieval. This collection charts significant new directions in the field, including temporal, spatial, definitional, biographical, multimedia, and multilingual question answering. After an introduction that defines essential terminology and provides a roadmap to future trends, the book covers key areas of research and development. These include current methods, architecture requirements, and the history of question answering on the Web; the development of systems to address new types of questions; interactivity, which is often required for clarification of questions or answers; reuse of answers; advanced methods; and knowledge representation and reasoning used to support question answering. Each section contains an introduction that summarizes the chapters included and places them in context, relating them to the other chapters in the book as well as to the existing literature in the field and assessing the problems and challenges that remain.
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About the Author

Mark Maybury is Executive Director of the Information Technology Division at the MITRE Corporation.

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