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  • 1.
    Cimiano, Philipp
    et al.
    Technical University of Karlsruhe.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Natural language interfaces: what's the problem? -a data-driven quantitative analysis2010In: Natural language processing and information systems: 14th International Conference on Applications of Natural Language to Information Systems, NLDB 2009 / [ed] Helmut Horacek, Elisabeth Métais, Rafael Muñoz and Magdalena Wolska, Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2010, p. 192-206Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    While qualitative analyses of the problems involved in building natural language interfaces (NLIs) have been available, a quantitative grounding in empirical data has been missing. We fill this gap by providing a quantitative analysis on the basis of the Geobase dataset. We hope that this analysis can guide further research in NLIs.

  • 2. Cohen, Mika
    et al.
    Minock, Michael
    KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Oskarsson, Daniel
    Pelzer, Björn
    Enterprise architecture with executable modelling rules: A case study at the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration2015In: Advanced Information Systems Engineering Workshops, CAiSE 2015 / [ed] Persson A.,Stirna J., Springer, 2015, Vol. 215, p. 339-350Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 3. Cohen, Mika
    et al.
    Minock, Michael
    KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.
    Oskarsson, Daniel
    Pelzer, Björn
    Natural Language Specification and Violation Reporting of Business Rules over ER-modeled Databases2015In: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Extending Database Technology, EDBT 2015, OpenProceedings.org, University of Konstanz, University Library , 2015, p. 541-544Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper presents our work on adapting and extending natural language interface (NLI) to database technology to support the specification and violation reporting of business rules. The resulting system allows non-technical users to author and manage a rulebook in controlled natural language - serving as a single point of definition that can be compiled into SQL to generate violation reports. To achieve this we represent business rules in tuple calculus, handle negation in our query re-writing algorithms and add support for natural language reflexives (e.g. 'its', 'themselves', etc.). Our results show a large class of business rules can be captured with these extensions. Although our approach is general, we present it applied to compliance checking of regulations over a materiel capability development information system at the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration. At EDBT we will also demonstrate this work over a more generic package delivery domain. While there has been recent effort in pursuing Semantics for Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR) in the semantic web and description logic communities, to our knowledge ours is the first attempt to provide this capability for ER-modeled relational databases.

  • 4.
    Granberg, Johan
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    A natural language interface over the MusicBrainz database2011In: Proceedings of the 1st workshop on Question Answering over Linked Data (QALD-1) / [ed] Christina Unger, Philipp Cimiano, Vanessa Lopez, Enrico Motta, 2011, p. 38-43Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper demonstrates a way to build a natural language interface (NLI) over semantically rich data. Specifically we show this over the MusicBrainz domain, inspired by the second shared task of the QALD-1 workshop. Our approach uses the tool C-Phrase [4] to build an NLI over a set of views defined over the original MusicBrainz relational database. C-Phrase uses a limited variant of X-Bar theory [3] for syntax and tuple calculus for semantics. The C-Phrase authoring tool works over any domain and only the end configuration has to be redone for each new database covered – a task that does not require deep knowledge about linguistics and system internals. Working over the MusicBrainz domain was a challenge due to the size of the database – quite a lot of effort went into optimizing computation times and memory usage to manageable levels. This paper reports on this work and anticipates a live demonstration for querying by the public

  • 5.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    A Phrasal Approach to Natural Language Interfaces over Databases2005Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This short paper introduces the STEP system for natural language access to relational databases. In contrast to most work in the area, STEP adopts a phrasal approach; an administrator couples phrasal patterns to elementary expressions of tuple relational calculus. This 'phrasal lexicon' is used bi-directionally, enabling the generation of natural language from tuple relational calculus and the inverse parsing of natural language to tuple calculus. This ability to both understand and generate natural language enables STEP to engage the user in clarification dialogs when the parse of their query is of questionable quality or is open to multiple interpretations. An on-line demonstration of STEP is accessible at http://www.cs.umu.se/~mjm/step.

  • 6.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    A phrasal generator for describing relational database queries2003Conference paper (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [sv]

    This paper proposes a technique to generate single sentence natural language descriptions for a wide class of relational database queries. Such a capability meets an important need in the area of cooperative information systems.

    The approach to describing queries is phrasal and is restricted to tuple relational queries using positive or negatively signed sequences of existential quantifiers over conjunctions of conditions. Query containment and equivalence are decidable for this class and this property is exploited in the maintenance and use of the phrasal

    lexicon.

  • 7.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    A STEP Towards Realizing Codd's Vision of Rendezvous with the Casual User2007In: 33rd International Conference on Very Large Databases (VLDB-2007), 2007Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This demonstration showcases the STEP system for natural language access to relational databases. In STEP an administrator authors a highly structured semantic grammar through coupling phrasal patterns to elementary expressions within a decidable fragment of tuple relational calculus. The resulting phrasal lexicon serves as a bi-directional grammar, enabling the generation of natural language from tuple relational calculus and the inverse parsing of natural language to tuple calculus. This ability to both understand and generate natural language enables STEP to engage the user in clarification dialogs when the parse of their query is of questionable quality. The STEP system is nearing completion and will soon be field tested in several domains.

  • 8.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science. KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
    COVER: Covering the Semantically Tractable Question2017In: Proceedings of the Software Demonstrations of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL), 2017: Demonstration session, 2017, p. 1-4Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In semantic parsing, natural language questions map to meaning representation language (MRL) expressions over some fixed vocabulary of predicates. To do this reliably, one must guarantee that for a wide class of natural language questions (the so called semantically tractable questions), correct interpretations are always in the mapped set of possibilities. Here we demonstrate the system COVER which significantly clarifies, revises and extends the notion of semantic tractability. COVER is written in Python and uses NLTK.

  • 9.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    C-Phrase: a system for building robust natural language interfaces to databases2010In: Data & Knowledge Engineering, ISSN 0169-023X, E-ISSN 1872-6933, Vol. 69, no 3, p. 290-302Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article presents C-Phrase, a natural language interface system that can be configured by normal, non-specialized, web-based technical teams. C-Phrase models queries in an extended version of Codd’s tuple calculus and uses synchronous context-free grammars with lambda-expressions to represent semantic grammars. Given an arbitrary relational database, authors rapidly build an NLI using what we term the name-tailor-define protocol. We present a small study demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach for the GEO corpus and we introduce the evaluation metric of willingness that complements the standard metrics of precision and recall. However our true evaluation comes as we open-source C-Phrase.

  • 10.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Describing and deriving certain answers over partial databases2010In: Journal of Intelligent Information Systems, ISSN 0925-9902, E-ISSN 1573-7675, Vol. 35, no 2, p. 245-260Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Although there has been much work in recent years on answering queries using views, there has been less work on deriving answers from partial databases. That is given a partial database state D V , materialized via the view V, what queries can be asked over D V that can be answered with certainty using only the instance of the partial database and standard query evaluation mechanisms. We define these as the derivable answers and show several special cases in which we can compute and intensionally describe them.

  • 11.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Discernability and preference in interactive option searches2009In:  Swedish Artificial Intelligence Society (SAIS), 2009, p. 21-26Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In option searches, a user seeks to locate an ideal option (e.g. a flight, restaurant, book, etc.) from a set of n such options. The aim of this paper is to provide a solid mathematical basis for optimizing presentation length in such searches. The paper develops an information theoretic model that takes into account the user’s ability to discern among options as well as their a priori preference. The developed model makes definite predictions about what clusterings of a user query are more or less informative based on measures of information gain. Users are offered descriptions of such clusters as the basis for subsequent refinement steps in a drill-down dialogue to locate the best option. We have implemented an initial system that performs reasonably well on moderately large data sets and gives intuitively appealing results. The system is in the process of being integrated into a natural language interface system for end-user evaluation.

  • 12.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science. KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Evaluating an Automata Approach to Query Containment2017In: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Finite State Methods and Natural Language Processing (FSMNLP) / [ed] Frank Drewes, 2017, p. 75-79Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Given two queries Qsuper and Qsub, query containment is the problem of determining if Qsub(D) ⊆ Qsuper(D) for all databases D. This problem has long been explored, but to our knowledge no one has empirically evaluated a straightforward application of finite state automata to the problem. We do so here, covering the case of conjunctive queries with limited set conditions. We evaluate an implementation of our approach against straightforward implementations of both the canonical database and theorem proving approaches. Our implementation outperforms theorem proving on a natural language interface corpus over a photo/video domain. It also outperforms the canonical database implementation on single relation queries with large set conditions.

  • 13.
    Minock, Michael
    KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
    In Pursuit of Decidable 'Logical Form'2014Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 14.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    Knowledge Representation using Schema Tuple Queries2003In: Knowledge Representation Meets Databases (KRDB-03), 2003Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper introduces schema tuple queries and argues for their suitability in representing knowledge over standard relational databases. Schema tuple queries are queries that return only whole tuples of schema relations. In particular a subclass of the schema tuple queries is identified that is decidable for satisfiability and is closed over syntactic query difference. These properties enable the determination of query containment, equivalence and disjointness. Given this, the identified query class possesses many of the desirable properties of description logics. Additionally such schema tuple queries may be directly translated to SQL and applied over standard n-ary database relations.

  • 15.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    Managing Database Incompleteness with the Guarded Fragment2004In: Workshop on Guarded Logics, European Summer School in Logic Language and Information (ESSLLI-04), 2004Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Traditional databases do not explicitly represent the portions over their schemas for which they are sound and complete. This paper proposes a method by which very fine grained meta-data descriptions may be attached to relational data sources to describe, among other things, the portions of various tables for which the database has complete data. Because of the formal properties of the meta-data description language, itself expressible within the guarded fragment of first-order logic, intensional descriptions of the coverage offered to a specific query may be generated. The techniques discussed in this paper are general and may apply to many scenarios where fine-grained meta-data descriptions are associated with tuple sets.

  • 16.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    Modular Generation of Relational Query Paraphrases2006In: Research on Language and Computation: Formal Issues in Natural Language Generation, Vol. 4, no 1, p. 28-Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article proposes a novel technique to generate natural language descriptions for a wide class of relational database queries. The approach to describing queries is phrasal and is restricted to a class of queries that return only whole schema tuples as answers. Query containment and equivalence are decidable for this class and this property is exploited in the maintenance and use of a phrasal lexicon. The query description mechanism is implemented within the STEP (Schema Tuple Query Processor) system.

    Because the said query class is also closed over elementary set operations, it may be reasoned with in a relatively unrestricted manner. This enables a modular separation between a reasoning component and a `tactical' realization component. To demonstrate this modularity, this fragment is shown to be adequate for several cooperative reasoning techniques. Thus the cooperative information system serves as the `strategic' component, deciding what to say, while the generation system acts as the `tactical' component, deciding how to say it. Naturally expressions within the said query language are the interchange language between these two components.

  • 17.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    Natural Language Updates to Databases through Dialogue2006In: 11th International Conference on Applications of Natural Language to Information Systems (NLDB-2006), 2006, p. 6-Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper reopens the long dormant topic of natural language updates to databases. A protocol to handle database updates of the IDM (Insert-Delete-Modify) class is proposed and implemented. This protocol exploits modern relational update facilities and constraints and structures update dialogues using DAMSL dialogue acts. The protocol may be used with any natural language parser that maps to relational queries.

  • 18.
    Minock, Michael
    KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
    Using HOL Light to Reason over Second-Order MRLs2016Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 19.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Vague relations in spatial databases2010In: Natural language processing and information systems: 15th international conference on applications of natural language to information systems, NLDB 2010 / [ed] Christina J. Hopfe, Yacine Rezgui, Elisabeth Métais, Alun Preece and Haijiang Li, 2010, p. 177-187Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    While qualitative relatins (e.g RCC8 relations) can readily be derived from spatial databases, a more difficult matter is the representation of vague spatial realtions such as "near-to", "next-to", "between", etc. After surveying earlier approaches, this paper propose a method that is tractable, learnable and directly suitable for use in natural language interfaces to spatial databases. The approach is based on definite logic programs with contexts represented as first class objects and supervaluation over a set of threshold parameters, a polynomial-time algorithm finds a setting of threshold parameters that are consistent with a training corpus of vague descriptions of scenes. The results of this algorithm may then be compiled into view definitions which are accessed in real-time by natural language interfaces employing normal, non-exotic query answering mechanisms.

  • 20.
    Minock, Michael
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    Where are the 'Killer Applications' of Restricted Domain Question Answering?2005In: in proceedings of Knowledge and Reasoning in Question Answering (KRAQ-2005), 2005Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    From a language technologist's point of view, the penetration of natural language interfaces onto today's web is somewhat disappointing; it seems that information retrieval, forms based, metaphor-based and hyper-link interfaces dominate all points of the design space. While open domain question answering promises to rival or extend information retrieval systems, restricted domain question answering systems likewise represent a rival to forms-based interfaces. The purpose of this position paper is to discuss the properties of potential web-based `killer applications' of restricted domain question answering. The paper entertains a set of candidate domains, proposes a general methodology for building restricted domain interfaces and highlights some near term challenges that must be confronted.

  • 21.
    Minock, Michael J
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Vague relations in spatial databases2010In: Natural language processing and information systems, 2010, p. 177-187Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    While qualitative relations (e.g. RCC8 relations) can readily be derived from spatial databases, a more difficult matter is the representation of vague spatial relations such as 'near-to', 'next-to', 'between', etc. After surveying earlier approaches, this paper proposes a method that is tractable, learnable and directly suitable for use in natural language interfaces to spatial databases. The approach is based on definite logic programs with contexts represented as first class objects and supervaluation over a set of threshold parameters. Given an initial hand-built program with open threshold parameters, a polynomial-time algorithm finds a setting of threshold parameters that are consistent with a training corpus of vague descriptions of scenes. The results of this algorithm may then be compiled into view definitions which are accessed in real-time by natural language interfaces employing normal, non-exotic query answering mechanisms.

  • 22.
    Minock, Michael
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Mollevik, Johan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Context-dependent 'near' and 'far' in spatial databases via supervaluation2013In: Data & Knowledge Engineering, ISSN 0169-023X, E-ISSN 1872-6933, Vol. 86, p. 295-305Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Often we are interested to know what is 'near' and what is 'far' in spatial databases. For instance we would like a hotel 'near' the beach, but 'far' from the highway. It is not always obvious how to answer such nearness questions by reducing them to their crisp counterparts 'nearer' or 'nearest'. Thus we confront the vague and context-dependent relation of near (and far). Our approach follows a supervaluation tradition with a limited representation of context. The method is tractable, learnable and directly suitable for use in natural language interfaces to databases. The approach is based on logic programs supervaluated over a set of context-dependent threshold parameters. Given a set of rules with such unconstrained threshold parameters, a fixed parameter tractable algorithm finds a setting of parameters that are consistent with a training corpus of context-dependent descriptions of 'near' and 'far' in scenes. The results of this algorithm may then be compiled into view definitions which are accessed in real-time by natural language interfaces employing normal, non-exotic query answering mechanisms. 

  • 23.
    Minock, Michael
    et al.
    KTH.
    Mollevik, Johan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Prediction and scheduling in navigation systems2013In: Proceedings of the GeoHCI Workshop: in conjunctionwith ACM CHI 2013, 2013, p. 30-32Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This position paper makes a case for the need to predict pedestrian position and schedule communication acts in mobile navigation systems. In our work, carried out in the context of a voice guided city navigation system, we have found that improperly timed route instructions are a major cause of failure in guiding pedestrians in unknown environments. Furthermore, the need to communicate other information while guiding users on routes, as well as complications caused by network latencies, occurs often enough to require that we be able synchronize communication acts with user position as they follow a route. This has led us to focus our efforts on scheduling utterances to maximize route following success.

    In this position paper we motivate this problem and present our initial approach and findings which should be of interest to others engaged in similar efforts in both the Geography and HCI communities.

  • 24.
    Minock, Michael
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Mollevik, Johan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Åsander, Mattias
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Does TTS-based pedestrian navigation work?2014Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    We seek to test the hypothesis that text-to-speech(TTS) navigation systems can adequately guide pedestrians to unknown destinations in an unfamiliar city. Such systems bypass screenbased, multi-modal techniques and simply speak route following instructions incrementally into the pedestrian’s ear piece. Due to errors in GPS positioning, uncertainty of user heading, poor map quality and potential communication and processing latencies, this becomes a surprisingly challenging task. In our study, subjects are led on an unknown tour on the grounds of Ume˚a University. We evaluated both a human wizard controller as well as a simple decision-tree based controller and compared them to an ideal subject that knows the route. Results give support to our hypothesis that TTS-based navigation systems can adequately guide pedestrians. That said, our experiences point toward immediate and future improvements to make such systems more effective and agreeable. All the software and data behind this work will be open sourced to encourage confirmation, replication and, ultimately, improvement upon our results. This will soon be available for public download at http://janus-system.eu.

  • 25.
    Minock, Michael
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Mollevik, Johan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Åsander, Mattias
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Toward an active database platform for guiding urban pedestrians2012Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    We present an Android-based platform for incrementally presenting spoken route directions to guide pedestrians to destinations. Our approach makes heavy use of stored procedures and triggers in an underlying PostGIS spatial database. In fact most of the 'intelligence' of our prototype resides in database stored procedures and tables. As such it represents an example of a challenging real world case study for the use of persistent stored modules (PSM) in a complex mobility application. It also provides a platform to study performance tradeoffs for complex event processing over spatial data streams.

  • 26.
    Minock, Michael
    et al.
    School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Royal Institute of Technology KTH, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Mollevik, Johan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Åsander, Mattias
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    Karlsson, Marcus
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
    A test-bed for text-to-speech-based pedestrian navigation systems2013In: Natural Language Processing and Information Systems: 18th International Conference on Applications of Natural Language to Information Systems, NLDB 2013, Salford, UK, June 19-21, 2013. Proceedings / [ed] Elisabeth Métais, Farid Meziane, Mohamad Saraee, Vijayan Sugumaran, Sunil Vadera, Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2013, p. 396-399Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper presents an Android system to support eyes-free, hands-free navigation through a city. The system operates in two distinct modes: manual and automatic. In manual, a human operator sends text messages which are realized via TTS into the subject's earpiece. The operator sees the subject's GPS position on a map, hears the subject's speech, and sees a 1 fps movie taken from the subject's phone, worn as a necklace. In automatic mode, a programmed controller attempts to achieve the same guidance task as the human operator. We have fully built our manual system and have verified that it can be used to successfully guide pedestrians through a city. All activities are logged in the system into a single, large database state. We are building a series of automatic controllers which require us to confront a set of research challenges, some of which we briefly discuss in this paper. We plan to demonstrate our work live at NLDB.

  • 27.
    Minock, Michael
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    Olofsson, Peter
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    Näslund, Alexander
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Computing Science.
    Towards Building Robust Natural Language Interfaces to Databases2008In: 13th International Conference on Applications of Natural Language to Information Systems (NLDB-2008), 2008, p. 12-Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We seek to give everyday technical teams the capability to build robust natural language interfaces to their databases, for subsequent use by casual users. We present an approach to the problem which integrates and streamlines earlier work based on light annotation and authoring tools. We model queries in a higher-order version of Codd's tuple calculus and we use synchronous grammars extended with lambda functions to represent semantic grammars. The results of configuration can be applied directly to SQL based databases with general n-ary relations. We have fully implemented our approach and we present initial empirical results for the GEO corpus.

1 - 27 of 27
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