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Controlled English for knowledge representation


Kuhn, T. Controlled English for knowledge representation. 2010, University of Zurich, Faculty of Economics.

Abstract

Knowledge representation is a long-standing research area of computer science that aims at representing human knowledge in a form that computers can interpret. Most knowledge representation approaches, however, have suffered from poor user interfaces. It turns out to be difficult for users to learn and use the logic-based languages in which the knowledge has to be encoded. A new approach to design more intuitive but still reliable user interfaces for knowledge representation systems is the use of controlled natural language (CNL). CNLs are subsets of natural languages that are restricted in a way that allows their automatic translation into formal logic. A number of CNLs have been developed but the resulting tools are mostly just prototypes so far. Furthermore, nobody has yet been able to provide strong evidence that CNLs are indeed easier to understand than other logic-based languages. The goal of this thesis is to give the research area of CNLs for knowledge representation a shift in perspective: from the present explorative and proof-of-concept-based approaches to a more engineering-focussed point of view. For this reason, I introduce theoretical and practical building blocks for the design and application of controlled English for the purpose of knowledge representation. I first show how CNLs can be defined in an adequate and simple way by the introduction of a novel grammar notation and I describe efficient algorithms to process such grammars. I then demonstrate how these theoretical concepts can be implemented and how CNLs can be embedded in knowledge representation tools so that they provide intuitive and powerful user interfaces that are accessible even to untrained users. Finally, I discuss how the understandability of CNLs can be evaluated. I argue that the understandability of CNLs cannot be assessed reliably with existing approaches, and for this reason I introduce a novel testing framework. Experiments based on this framework show that CNLs are not only easier to understand than comparable languages but also need less time to be learned and are preferred by users.

Abstract

Knowledge representation is a long-standing research area of computer science that aims at representing human knowledge in a form that computers can interpret. Most knowledge representation approaches, however, have suffered from poor user interfaces. It turns out to be difficult for users to learn and use the logic-based languages in which the knowledge has to be encoded. A new approach to design more intuitive but still reliable user interfaces for knowledge representation systems is the use of controlled natural language (CNL). CNLs are subsets of natural languages that are restricted in a way that allows their automatic translation into formal logic. A number of CNLs have been developed but the resulting tools are mostly just prototypes so far. Furthermore, nobody has yet been able to provide strong evidence that CNLs are indeed easier to understand than other logic-based languages. The goal of this thesis is to give the research area of CNLs for knowledge representation a shift in perspective: from the present explorative and proof-of-concept-based approaches to a more engineering-focussed point of view. For this reason, I introduce theoretical and practical building blocks for the design and application of controlled English for the purpose of knowledge representation. I first show how CNLs can be defined in an adequate and simple way by the introduction of a novel grammar notation and I describe efficient algorithms to process such grammars. I then demonstrate how these theoretical concepts can be implemented and how CNLs can be embedded in knowledge representation tools so that they provide intuitive and powerful user interfaces that are accessible even to untrained users. Finally, I discuss how the understandability of CNLs can be evaluated. I argue that the understandability of CNLs cannot be assessed reliably with existing approaches, and for this reason I introduce a novel testing framework. Experiments based on this framework show that CNLs are not only easier to understand than comparable languages but also need less time to be learned and are preferred by users.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Hess M, Fuchs N E
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Language:English
Date:6 November 2010
Deposited On:29 Mar 2010 15:37
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 02:01
Number of Pages:242
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://attempto.ifi.uzh.ch/site/pubs/papers/doctoral_thesis_kuhn.pdf

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