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Introducing MathQA: a Math-Aware question answering system

Moritz Schubotz (Chair of Digital Media, University of Wuppertal, School of Electrical Information and Media Engineering, Wuppertal, Germany)
Philipp Scharpf (Information Science Group, University of Konstanz, Department of Computer and Information Science, Konstanz, Germany)
Kaushal Dudhat (Information Science Group, University of Konstanz, Department of Computer and Information Science, Konstanz, Germany)
Yash Nagar (Information Science Group, University of Konstanz, Department of Computer and Information Science, Konstanz, Germany)
Felix Hamborg (Universitat Konstanz Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Konstanz, Germany)
Bela Gipp (Chair of Digital Media, University of Wuppertal, School of Electrical Information and Media Engineering, Wuppertal, Germany)

Information Discovery and Delivery

ISSN: 2398-6247

Article publication date: 19 November 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present an open source math-aware Question Answering System based on Ask Platypus.

Design/methodology/approach

The system returns as a single mathematical formula for a natural language question in English or Hindi. These formulae originate from the knowledge-based Wikidata. The authors translate these formulae to computable data by integrating the calculation engine sympy into the system. This way, users can enter numeric values for the variables occurring in the formula. Moreover, the system loads numeric values for constants occurring in the formula from Wikidata.

Findings

In a user study, this system outperformed a commercial computational mathematical knowledge engine by 13 per cent. However, the performance of this system heavily depends on the size and quality of the formula data available in Wikidata. As only a few items in Wikidata contained formulae when the project started, the authors facilitated the import process by suggesting formula edits to Wikidata editors. With the simple heuristic that the first formula is significant for the paper, 80 per cent of the suggestions were correct.

Originality/value

This research was presented at the JCDL17 KDD workshop.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Akiko Aizawa for her advice and for hosting as visiting researchers in her lab at the National Institute of Informatics (NII) in Tokyo. Furthermore, they thank Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland for providing cloud computing facilities and a research visit. Besides many Wikimedians, Lydia Pintscher and Jonas Kress were a great help in getting started with Wikidata. This work was supported by the FITWeltweit program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as well as the German Research Foundation (DFG grant GI-1259-1).ACM acknowledges that this contribution was authored or co-authored by an employee, contractor or affiliate of the US Government. As such, the US Government retains a nonexclusive, royalty-free right to publish or reproduce this article, or to allow others to do so, for government purposes only.

Citation

Schubotz, M., Scharpf, P., Dudhat, K., Nagar, Y., Hamborg, F. and Gipp, B. (2018), "Introducing MathQA: a Math-Aware question answering system", Information Discovery and Delivery, Vol. 46 No. 4, pp. 214-224. https://doi.org/10.1108/IDD-06-2018-0022

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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