Bertram Raphael


A computer representation for semantic information
Bertram Raphael
Proceedings of the Annual meeting of the Association for Machine Translation and Computational Linguistics

This paper deals with the problem of representing in a useful form, within a digital computer, the information content of statements in natural language. The model proposed consists of words and list-structure associations between words. Statements in simple English are thought of as describing relations between objects in the real world. Sentences are analyzed by matching them against members of a list of formats, each of which determines a unique relation. These relations are stored on description-lists associated with those words which denote objects (or sets of objects). A LISP computer program uses this model in the context of a simple question-answering system. Functions are provided which may grow, search, and modify this model. Formats and functions dealing with set-relations, part-whole and numeric relations, and left-toright spatial relations have been included in the system, which is being expanded to handle other types of relations. All functions which operate on the model report information concerning their actions to the programmer, so that the applicability and limitations of this kind of model may more easily be evaluated.