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Monday, 30th August 2004

Answer Engine Research at Microsoft

Answer Engines
Source: The Economist
Answer Engine Research at Microsoft
We've mentioned and linked to articles about "answer engines" numerous times on ResourceShelf. Some new stuff today. Here's an article about the "Ask MSR" research at Microsoft from the current issue of The Economist. From the article, "What is the next stage in the evolution of internet search engines? AltaVista demonstrated that indexing the entire world wide web was feasible. Google's success stems from its uncanny ability to sort useful web pages from dross. But the real prize will surely go to whomever can use the web to deliver a straight answer to a straight question. And Eric Brill, a researcher at Microsoft, intends that his firm will be the first to do that...Ask MSR is still a prototype, although Microsoft is trying to improve it and it may be launched commercially under the name AnswerBot." If you would like to read more, take a look at these papers from MS that have been linked on RS during the past year:
+ Automatic Question Answering: Beyond the Factoid
A 2004 paper by Eric Brill and Radu Soricut. This paper is mentioned in the article.
+ "Web Question Answering: Is More Always Better?"
A 2002 paper by Microsoft researchers.
+ "An Analysis of the AskMSR Question-Answering System"
Another 2002 paper by Microsoft researchers.

We should also mention that Ask Jeeves is doing some interesting and USEFUL work in this area with their Smart Search program. For example, a search for academy awards best actress 1962 provides an ANSWER (mined from the IMDB) not only provides links to answers BUT an actual answer (with a link to the source) at the top of the results list. Here's another example.
See Also: A Recent RS post about Kozoru
A Kansas City startup also doing work in this area.
See Also: A May 2004 RS Post about LearnitAll
Answer engine/knowledge extraction research at the University of Washington.
See Also: ResourceShelfPLUS has a compilation of selected MS Search Technical Reports and Patents

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