Yanli: A Powerful Natural Language Front-End Tool

John C. Glasgow


An important issue in achieving acceptance of computer systems used by the nonprogramming community is the ability to communicate with these systems in natural language. Often, a great deal of time in the design of any such system is devoted to the natural language front end. An obvious way to simplify this task is to provide a portable natural language front-end tool or facility that is sophisticated enough to allow for a reasonable variety of input; allows modification; and, yet, is easy to use. This paper describes such a tool that is based on augmented transition networks (ATNs). It allows for user input to be in sentence or nonsentence form or both, provides a detailed parse tree that the user can access, and also provides the facility to generate responses and save information. The system provides a set of ATNs or allows the user to construct ATNs using system utilities. The system is written in Franz Lisp and was developed on a DEC VAX 11/780 running the ULTRIX-32 operating system.

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