Learning question classifiers: The role of semantic information

Xin Li, Dan Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To respond correctly to a free form factual question given a large collection of text data, one needs to understand the question to a level that allows determining some of the constraints the question imposes on a possible answer. These constraints may include a semantic classification of the sought after answer and may even suggest using different strategies when looking for and verifying a candidate answer. This work presents a machine learning approach to question classification. Guided by a layered semantic hierarchy of answer types, we develop a hierarchical classifier that classifies questions into fine-grained classes. This work also performs a systematic study of the use of semantic information sources in natural language classification tasks. It is shown that, in the context of question classification, augmenting the input of the classifier with appropriate semantic category information results in significant improvements to classification accuracy. We show accurate results on a large collection of free-form questions used in TREC 10 and 11.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-249
Number of pages21
JournalNatural Language Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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