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10. Analyzing the Meaning of Sentences > Natural Language Understanding

Natural Language Understanding

Querying a Database

Suppose we have a program that lets us type in a natural language question and gives us back the right answer:

Example 10-1. 
  1. Which country is Athens in?

  2. Greece.

How hard is it to write such a program? And can we just use the same techniques that we’ve encountered so far in this book, or does it involve something new? In this section, we will show that solving the task in a restricted domain is pretty straightforward. But we will also see that to address the problem in a more general way, we have to open up a whole new box of ideas and techniques, involving the representation of meaning.

So let’s start off by assuming that we have data about cities and countries in a structured form. To be concrete, we will use a database table whose first few rows are shown in Table 10-1.


  

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