Exploring Time, Tense and Aspect in Natural Language Database Interfaces

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Advances in temporal databases make it increasingly easier to store time-dependent information, creating a need for facilities that will help end-users access this information. In the context of natural language interaction, significant effort has been devoted to interfaces that allow database queries to be formulated in natural language. Most of the existing interfaces, however, do not support adequately the notion of time. Drawing upon tense and aspect theories, temporal logics, and temporal databases, this cross-discipline book examines relevant issues from the three areas, developing a unified theoretical framework that can be used to build natural language interfaces to temporal databases. The framework features an HPSG mapping from English to a formally defined meaning representation language, and a corresponding mapping to a temporal extension of the SQL database language. The book is accompanied by a freely available prototype interface, built according to the framework, and implemented using Prolog and ALE. This is the first in-depth exploration of the notion of time in natural language database interfaces. It will be particularly interesting to researchers working on natural language interaction, tense and aspect, HPSG, temporal logics, and temporal databases, especially those who wish to learn about time-related issues in other disciplines.<br /><br />

Subjects: Semantics; Natural language processing

  • Affiliations: 1: Athens University of Economics and Business

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