Multilingual Question Answering

Multilingual question answering is a sub-field of question answering or QA, a discipline within the computer science that is closely related to both the field of information retrieval and natural language processing. It focuses on creating systems that don’t only answer questions but also allow the user to access information in other languages than that used for asking questions.

How the Question Answering (QA) System Works?

The main idea of the question answering (QA) system is to automatically provide an answer to the user’s query. To do that, the system obviously needs an access to a database of relevant information such as the knowledge base for instance. However, most QA systems rely on information obtained from various collections of natural language documents which are in most cases unstructured, e.g. collection of reference texts, news reports, world wide web pages, etc.

Multilingual Question Answering (QA) Not in Focus of QA Research Until Recently

The discipline of QA has been an important part of computer science for a number of years. The multilingual version, on the other hand, hasn’t been receiving much attention until the recent years. Instead, the QA research was focused almost exclusively on building QA systems that provide answers to questions asked by humans in English language only. What is more, the development of cross-lingual QA systems that allow access to information in non-English language started off as an extension of the mainstream QA research.

Multilingual QA Systems Depend Greatly on a Good Corpus/Database

Several multilingual QA systems have been built in the last few years, all seeking to overcome not only the challenges of monolingual QA but also to overcome the issue of accessing and retrieving information in multiple languages. The majority, however, are based on translating relevant sections of the question – usually with the aid of machine translation system - which are then used to access to a collection containing relevant information. Most commonly used multilingual QA systems also rely heavily on the monolingual system to answer the question.

Though current multilingual QA system needs further development, it is highly important to mention that, just like its monolingual counterpart, it too depends greatly on a good corpus or database. Without it, even the most sophisticated QA system cannot provide satisfactory results.