Interactive Question Answering

Interactive Question Answering

Natalia Konstantinova (University of Wolverhampton, UK) and Constantin Orasan (University of Wolverhampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2169-5.ch007
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Abstract

The increasing amount of information available online has led to the development of technologies that help to deal with it. One of them is Interactive Question Answering (IQA), a research field that has emerged at the intersection of question answering and dialogue systems, and which allows users to find the answers to questions in an interactive way. During the answering process, the automatic system can initiate a dialogue with the user in order to clarify missing or ambiguous information, or suggest further topics for discussion. This chapter presents the state-of-the-art in the field of interactive question answering. Given that IQA inherits a lot of features from dialogue systems and question answering, these fields are also briefly presented. Analysis of the existing systems reveals that in general IQA systems rely on a scaled-down version of a dialogue system, sometimes built on top of question answering systems. Evaluation of IQA is also discussed, showing that it combines evaluation techniques from question answering and dialogue systems.
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Dialogue Systems

The term dialogue system is widely used nowadays to refer to automatic systems involving coherent dialogue with a human interlocutor. The editors of the Journal of Dialogue Systems define a dialogue system as:

A computational device or agent that (a) engages in interaction with other human and/or computer participant(s); (b) uses human language in some form such as speech, text, or sign; and (c) typically engages in such interaction across multiple turns or sentences (http://www.jods.org/).

This definition highlights several important aspects of such systems. A dialogue system always has a user, who interacts with the system for a specific goal such as completing some tasks. The interaction involves a conversation in human language between two or more participants and can take several turns. The fact that human language is used in the interaction differentiates the field from other fields such as database access using computer languages (such as SQL) or interaction between software agents that communicate using XML or some other standard computer formats.

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