Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, October 7, 2002

Web-based Natural Language Question Answering System

Natural Language Search Engine
= interesting, promising
Search Engine

If you are looking for natural language nirvana, there is a new interesting new kid on the block called AnswerBus. Unlike Ask Jeeves which is a more popular and well known natural language search engine, AnswerBus replies to your questions by supplying a list of possible answers (instead of possible questions), simplifying the process one step further.

You can input your question in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian or Portuguese. Personally I would not trust querying the engine in languages outside of English, as AnswerBus does its multilanguage magic through the use of the too primitive BabelFish tool at AltaVista

AnswerBus works it apparent wonders through an innovative and interesting process. It first selects appropriate search engines to query depending on your request subject (among (Google, Yahoo, WiseNut, AltaVista, and Yahoo News), it then extracts sentences that potentially contain answers from the documents and finally it ranks the answers and it returns the top choices with contextual URL links to the user.

What is also interesting about AnswerBus is that instead of returning a snippet of fixed length text, AnswerBus return sentences as answers, thus providing end users with relevant contextual information for the answers.

AnswerBus interface is very essential and straightforward with no distractions on the screen outside a list of sample questions on the home page.

This project has been developed by Zhiping Zheng at the University of Michigan. You can read a full paper entitled:
"Developing a Web-based Question Answering System" available online about this project at: (yes, it is right, with no period after the www).

More info on this project is also accessible at: HLT2002.pdf MF-IR.pdf

Still being developed, it may produce at times Internal Server Error messages.

Interesting concept. Worth a try



Readers' Comments    
2004-10-20 09:04:57

Yuan Caixia

It is a excellent system realizing the NLP search on the Web!

However, the answers are not friendly and floquent enough, and additionaly, the relevence is not as good as AskJeeves...

There is still room for improment!

posted by Robin Good on Monday, October 7 2002, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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