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    • NAACL 2013
      Xuchen Yao, Benjamin Van Durme, Chris Callision-Burch, and Peter Clark

      Our goal is to extract answers from preretrieved sentences for Question Answering (QA). We construct a linear-chain Conditional Random Field based on pairs of questions and their possible answer sentences, learning the association between questions and answer types. This casts answer extraction as an answer sequence tagging problem for the first time, where knowledge of shared structure between question and source sentence is incorporated through features based on Tree Edit Distance (TED). Our model is free of manually created question and answer templates, fast to run (processing 200 QA pairs per second excluding parsing time), and yields an F1 of 63.3% on a new public dataset based on prior TREC QA evaluations. The developed system is open-source, and includes an implementation of the TED model that is state of the art in the task of ranking QA pairs.

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    • EMNLP 2013
      Xuchen Yao, Benjamin Van Durme, Chris Callision-Burch, and Peter Clark

      We introduce a novel discriminative model for phrase-based monolingual alignment using a semi-Markov CRF. Our model achieves stateof-the-art alignment accuracy on two phrasebased alignment datasets (RTE and paraphrase), while doing significantly better than other strong baselines in both non-identical alignment and phrase-only alignment. Additional experiments highlight the potential benefit of our alignment model to RTE, paraphrase identification and question answering, where even a naive application of our model's alignment score approaches the state of the art.

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    • AKBC 2013
      Xiao Ling, Dan Weld, and Peter Clark

      Knowledge of objects and their parts, meronym relations, are at the heart of many question-answering systems, but manually encoding these facts is impractical. Past researchers have tried hand-written patterns, supervised learning, and bootstrapped methods, but achieving both high precision and recall has proven elusive. This paper reports on a thorough exploration of distant supervision to learn a meronym extractor for the domain of college biology. We introduce a novel algorithm, generalizing the "at least one" assumption of multi-instance learning to handle the case where a fixed (but unknown) percentage of bag members are positive examples. Detailed experiments compare strategies for mention detection, negative example generation, leveraging out-of-domain meronyms, and evaluate the benefit of our multi-instance percentage model.

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    • EMNLP 2013
      Aju Thalappillil Scaria, Jonathan Berant, Mengqiu Wang, Christopher D. Manning, Justin Lewis, Brittany Harding, and Peter Clark

      Biological processes are complex phenomena involving a series of events that are related to one another through various relationships. Systems that can understand and reason over biological processes would dramatically improve the performance of semantic applications involving inference such as question answering (QA) — specifically "How?" and "Why?" questions. In this paper, we present the task of process extraction, in which events within a process and the relations between the events are automatically extracted from text. We represent processes by graphs whose edges describe a set of temporal, causal and co-reference event-event relations, and characterize the structural properties of these graphs (e.g., the graphs are connected). Then, we present a method for extracting relations between the events, which exploits these structural properties by performing joint inference over the set of extracted relations. On a novel dataset containing 148 descriptions of biological processes (released with this paper), we show significant improvement comparing to baselines that disregard process structure.

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    • CIKM • AKBC 2013
      Peter Clark, Phil Harrison, and Niranjan Balasubramanian

      Our long-term interest is in machines that contain large amounts of general and scientific knowledge, stored in a "computable" form that supports reasoning and explanation. As a medium-term focus for this, our goal is to have the computer pass a fourth-grade science test, anticipating that much of the required knowledge will need to be acquired semi-automatically. This paper presents the first step towards this goal, namely a blueprint of the knowledge requirements for an early science exam, and a brief description of the resources, methods, and challenges involved in the semiautomatic acquisition of that knowledge. The result of our analysis suggests that as well as fact extraction from text and statistically driven rule extraction, three other styles of automatic knowledge-base construction (AKBC) would be useful: acquiring definitional knowledge, direct "reading" of rules from texts that state them, and, given a particular representational framework (e.g., qualitative reasoning), acquisition of specific instances of those models from text (e..g, specific qualitative models).

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    • NAACL-HLT • AKBC Workshop 2012
      Peter Clark, Phil Harrison, Niranjan Balasubramanian, and Oren Etzioni

      As part of our work on building a "knowledgeable textbook" about biology, we are developing a textual question-answering (QA) system that can answer certain classes of biology questions posed by users. In support of that, we are building a "textual KB" - an assembled set of semi-structured assertions based on the book - that can be used to answer users' queries, can be improved using global consistency constraints, and can be potentially validated and corrected by domain experts. Our approach is to view the KB as systematically caching answers from a QA system, and the QA system as assembling answers from the KB, the whole process kickstarted with an initial set of textual extractions from the book text itself. Although this research is only in a preliminary stage, we summarize our progress and lessons learned to date.

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