Combining competing language understanding approaches in an intelligent tutoring system

Pamela W. Jordan, Maxim Makatchev, Kurt Vanlehn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


When implementing a tutoring system that attempts a deep understanding of students' natural language explanations, there are three basic approaches to choose between; symbolic, in which sentence strings are parsed using a lexicon and grammar; statistical, in which a corpus is used to train a text classifier; and hybrid, in which rich, symbolically produced features supplement statistical training. Because each type of approach requires different amounts of domain knowledge preparation and provides different quality output for the same input, we describe a method for heuristically combining multiple natural language understanding approaches in an attempt to use each to its best advantage. We explore two basic models for combining approaches in the context of a tutoring system; one where heuristics select the first satisficing representation and another in which heuristics select the highest ranked representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-357
Number of pages12
JournalLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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