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Natural Language User Interfaces (LUI or NLUI) are a type of computer human interface where linguistic phenomena such as verbs, phrases and clauses act as UI controls for creating, selecting and modifying data in software applications.
In interface design natural language interfaces are sought after for their speed and ease of use, but most suffer the challenges to understanding wide varieties of ambiguous input. Natural language interfaces are an active area of study in the field of natural language processing and computational linguistics. An intuitive general Natural language interface is one of the active goals of the Semantic Web.
Text interfaces are 'natural' to varying degrees. Many formal (un-natural) programming languages incorporate idioms of natural human language. Likewise, a traditional keyword search engine could be described as a 'shallow' Natural language user interface.
A natural language search engine would in theory find targeted answers to user questions (as opposed to keyword search). For example, when confronted with a question of the form 'which U.S. state has the highest income tax?', conventional search engines ignore the question and instead search on the keywords 'state', 'income' and 'tax'. Natural language search, on the other hand, attempts to use natural language processing to understand the nature of the question and then to search and return a subset of the web that contains the answer to the question. If it works, results would have a higher relevance than results from a keyword search engine.
Prototype Nl interfaces had already appeared in the late sixties and early seventies.
Natural language interfaces have in the past led users to anthropomorphize the computer, or at least to attribute more intelligence to machines than is warranted. On the part of the user, this has led to unrealistic expectations of the capabilities of the system. Such expectations will make it difficult to learn the restrictions of the system if users attribute too much capability to it, and will ultimately lead to disappointment when the system fails to perform as expected as was the case in the AI winter of the 1970s and 80s.
A 1995 paper titled 'Natural Language Interfaces to Databases – An Introduction', describes some challenges:
The request “List all employees in the company with a driving licence” is ambiguous unless you know companies can't have drivers licences.
“List all applicants who live in California and Arizona” is ambiguous unless you know that a person can't live in two places at once.
- resolve what a user means by 'he', 'she' or 'it', in a self-referential query.
Other goals to consider more generally are the speed and efficiency of the interface, in all algorithms these two points are the main point that will determine if some methods are better than others and therefore have greater success in the market.
Finally, regarding the methods used, the main problem to be solved is creating a general algorithm that can recognize the entire spectrum of different voices, while disregarding nationality, gender or age. The significant differences between the extracted features - even from speakers who says the same word or phrase - must be successfully overcome.
The natural language interface gives rise to technology used for many different applications.
Some of the main uses are:
Below are named and defined some of the applications that use natural language recognition, and so have integrated utilities listed above.
Ubiquity, an add-on for Mozilla Firefox, is a collection of quick and easy natural-language-derived commands that act as mashups of web services, thus allowing users to get information and relate it to current and other webpages.
Wolfram Alpha is an online service that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from structured data, rather than providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer as a search engine would. It was announced in March 2009 by Stephen Wolfram, and was released to the public on May 15, 2009.
Siri is a personal assistant application for the operating system iOS. The application uses natural language processing to answer questions and make recommendations. The iPhone app is the first public product by its makers, who are focused on artificial intelligence applications.
Siri's marketing claims include that it adapts to a user's individual preferences over time and personalizes results, and performs tasks such as making dinner reservations while trying to catch a cab.
Web Ontology Language, World Wide Web, Metadata, Resource Description Framework, Ontology (information science)
Machine learning, Chinese language, Speech recognition, Corpus linguistics, English language
Linux kernel, Free software, Debian, GNU, Unix
LG Electronics, LG G2, Intelligent personal assistant, Operating system, Android (operating system)
Google, Google Search, Google Chrome, Android (operating system), Google Books