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Research Paper #734

Title:A Framework for Natural Language Interfaces to Temporal Databases
Authors:Androutsopoulos,I; Ritchie,GD; Thanisch,P
Date:Jan 1995
Presented:Submitted for publication in "Computers in the Humanities"
Keywords:natural language interfaces, tense and aspect, temporal databases
Abstract:Over the past thirty years, there has been considerable progress in the design of natural language interfaces to databases. most of this work has concerned snapshot databases, in which there are only limited facilities for manipulating time-varying information. The database community is becoming increasingly interested in temporal databases, databases with special support for time-dependent entries. We have developed a framework for constructing natural language interfaces to temporal databases, drawing on research on temporal phenomena within logic and linguistics. The central part of our framework is a logic-like formal language, called TOP, which captures the temporal regularities in the semantics of a wide range of English sentences. We have implemented an HPSG-based sentence analyser that converts a large set of English queries involving time into TOP formulae, and have formulated a precise and provably correct procedure for translating TOP expressions into queries in the temporal database query language TSQL2. In this way we have established a sound route from English to a general-purpose temporal database query language.

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