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Peterson, J., K. Mahesh & A. Goel (1994) Situating natural language understanding within experience-based design. Int. J. Human-Computer Studies. 41, 881-913

Author of the summary: Jim Davies, 1999, jim@jimdavies.org

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In the past there have been two ways of making a natural-language understanding system (NLU) use inference and problem solving: This research is new in that it is like the second method above except that the linguistic and non-linguistic modules communicate. Both modules come to partial conclusions, then negotiate the final interpretation.

The system is called KA. Here is how it works:

This aids ambiguity resolution in two ways: (p883)
  1. the ontology of device designs insures some consistency
  2. interpretations most compatible with past experience are produced because it uses past experience to reason.
The designs in memory are represented in terms of Structure, Behavior, and Function (SBF). Structure is defined in terms of component and substance. Substances have locations with respect to components, and they also have behavioral properties with corresponding parameters.

Function is defined in terms of the behavioral state the device takes as input and the state it has at output.

The internal causal behaviors of a device are viewed as sequences of state transitions between behavioral states. They express the causal, structural, and functional context in which the transformation of state variables occur.

KA uses an early-committment/robust error recovery method to resolve ambiguity (p890).

KA goes through each word of the sentence, and guesses at a parse. There is a tentative interpretation made based on a the parts of speech and a set of retrieved analogues. Content words in the text activate corresponding parts of memory. (p893).

Consistency checking is done in accordance with the SBF ontology. The semantic network identifies inconsistent inferences and resolves them with the most common interpretation. Less common ones are retained for later use if needed (p894).

A current interpretation's differences with the design spec are resolved by making small modifications. (p899)

The third investigation showed that KA can usefully interpret NL feedback about a design. (p903)

Summary author's notes:

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Last modified: Thu Apr 1 10:27:20 EST 1999