A natural language help system shell through functional programming

Robert Plant, Stephen Murrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the development of a natural language (NL) interface for mixed initiative dialogues within a constrained domain and demonstrates the applicability of the functional approach to NL system development. The system consists of two major components, a natural language subsystem comprises a general-purpose parser that interprets a 'plug and play' tagged BNF grammar (which may be ambiguous), to parse natural language input and extract semantic information. The knowledge-based subsystem uses the semantic tags extracted by the natural language subsystem to generate a focused query to select the most appropriate script for a guided dialogue with the user. The system was written entirely in a purely functional language, which resulted in a surprisingly small and simple program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-35
Number of pages17
JournalKnowledge-Based Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Automated responses
  • Functional programming
  • Natural language processing
  • Scripts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Software
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Artificial Intelligence


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