Controlled natural languages for knowledge representation

COLING (Posters), (2010): 1113-1121

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Abstract

This paper presents a survey of research in controlled natural languages that can be used as high-level knowledge representation languages. Over the past 10 years or so, a number of machine-oriented controlled natural languages have emerged that can be used as high-level interface languages to various kinds of knowledge systems. These lan...More

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Introduction
  • Natural languages are probably the most expressive knowledge representation languages that exist; they are easy for humans to use and understand, and they are so powerful that they can even serve as their own metalanguages.
  • Formal languages (Monin, 2003) have been suggested and used as knowledge representation languages since they have a well-defined syntax, an unambiguous semantics and support automated reasoning.
  • These languages are often rather difficult for domain specialists to understand and cause a cognitive distance to the application domain that is not inherent in natural language
Highlights
  • Natural languages are probably the most expressive knowledge representation languages that exist; they are easy for humans to use and understand, and they are so powerful that they can even serve as their own metalanguages
  • Formal languages (Monin, 2003) have been suggested and used as knowledge representation languages since they have a well-defined syntax, an unambiguous semantics and support automated reasoning. These languages are often rather difficult for domain specialists to understand and cause a cognitive distance to the application domain that is not inherent in natural language
  • In Section 6, we discuss different approaches that have been used to evaluate the writability and understandability of controlled natural language, and in Section 7, we present our conclusions
  • It is an exciting time to work on controlled natural languages
  • We surveyed a number of machine-oriented controlled natural languages that can be used instead of formal languages for representing knowledge. These controlled natural languages look like English but correspond to a formal target language
  • Machine-oriented controlled natural languages can be translated automatically into a formal target language. These languages can be used to express the kind of information that occurs in software specifications, formal ontologies, business rules, and legal and medical regulations
Conclusion
  • The authors surveyed a number of machine-oriented controlled natural languages that can be used instead of formal languages for representing knowledge.
  • Machine-oriented controlled natural languages can be translated automatically into a formal target language.
  • These languages can be used to express the kind of information that occurs in software specifications, formal ontologies, business rules, and legal and medical regulations
Funding
  • ACE is supported by various tools2, among them a text editor that helps users to construct correct ACE sentences with the help of hints and error messages, a parser that translates ACE texts into discourse representation structures, a paraphraser that reflects the interpretation of the machine in CNL, and a Satchmo-style reasoning engine that can be used for consistency and redundancy checking as well as for question answering
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