FLEX(ID:5996/fle007)

Intermediate language for the ALA system 


Intermediate language for the ALA (Automatic Language Analyser) system at Indiana University 1960-63


References:
  • Simmons, R.F., "Answering English Questions by Computer - A Survey" SDC Report SP-1536 Santa Monica, Calif.; April, 1964 view details
  • Simmons, R. F. "Answering English questions by computer: a survey" p53-70 view details Abstract: Fifteen experimental English language question-answering systems which are programmed and operating are described and reviewed. The systems range from a conversation machines to programs which make sentences about pictures and systems which translate from English into logical calculi. Systems are classified as list-structured data-based, graphic data-based, text-based and inferential. Principles and methods of operations are detailed and discussed.

    It is concluded that the data-base question-answerer has passed from initial research into the early developmental phase. The most difficult and important research questions for the advancement of general-purpose language processors are seen to be concerned with measuring meaning, dealing with ambiguities, translating into formal languages and searching large tree structures. DOI Extract: FLEX and ALA
    The Automatic Language Analyzer (ALA).
    From Indiana University a series of quarterly reports by Householder et al. (1960-62) and a final technical report by Thorne (1962) describe the progress toward completion of a rather complicated automatic language analysis system) This system is designed to handle the breadth and complexity of language found in a book on astronomy. As a question-answering system, it introduces a variation of the principle of translating from English into an intermediate, language which bears a strong relationship to dependency structure. When translated to the intermediate language, FLEX, the question or text is also augmented by semantic codes obtained from Roget's Thesaurus--or from a specially constructed thesaurus. The degree of matching between question and text is then computed to select, a best answer.
    The primary information store for the ALA is a pre-analyzed set of sentences stored on tape. The preanalysis includes assignment of FLEX codes and of thesaurus references. The thesaurus is a list of clusters each of which indexes the portions of the text in which members of the cluster appear. A dictionary of word-stems and phrases provides cross-references to clusters in which the word appears. The sequence of operations is that the question is first analyzed and assigned FLEX and thesaurus codes, then sentences are selected and matched, and finally the paragraphs that contain supposed answering sentences are printed out with their scores.
    The transformation of English into the FLEX language is begun by looking up each word in a dictionary to assign ordinary syntactic word classes. At this point a great deal of effort is spent to resolve word-class ambiguity by use of special routines which use additional cues available in the sentence. The next phase is to order the words into clauses and phrases and to cheek the accuracy of tMs ordering. The breaking into clauses is accomplished by the use of marker words such as verbs and absolute markers such as because, how, if, what, when, etc. When the sentence has been analyzed into subject, verb and their qualifiers, the translation into FLEX is accomplished as shown below.



    The old manatestale food reluctantly.
    S1S2P1P2P3
    manoldatefood
    reluctantly
    stale

    The notation is to be read, "S1 means subject, S2 is the first qualifier, P1 means the verb, and P2 . . . . Pn refer to verb modifiers." The importance to the sentence of each FLEX symbol is rated separately for subject and predicate in order of the numbers assigned. Thus an S1 or a P1 are most heavily weighted in the later comparison process. Each word also carries a semantic coding. This code is simply a list of the thesaurus clusters in which it is found.
    Although programming of this system is apparently not yet completed, and it may be claimed that the FLEX transformation leaves much to be desired as an intermediate language, the ALA is unquestionably one of the more ambitious and sophisticated systems so far described. At this stage of experimentation it is worth wondering how well the semantic correlations will in general correspond to meaning matches between statements. In any ease it is a For other associative scoring techniques see (Doyle 1963). clearly formulated realization of what has hitherto been a rather vague idea that a thesaurus may be helpful in question answering.
          in [ACM] CACM 8(01) Jan 1965 view details
  • Sammet, Jean E., "Roster of Programming Languages 1972" 99 view details
          in Computers & Automation 21(6B), 30 Aug 1972 view details
  • Stock, Marylene and Stock, Karl F. "Bibliography of Programming Languages: Books, User Manuals and Articles from PLANKALKUL to PL/I" Verlag Dokumentation, Pullach/Munchen 1973 232 view details Abstract: PREFACE  AND  INTRODUCTION
    The exact number of all the programming languages still in use, and those which are no longer used, is unknown. Zemanek calls the abundance of programming languages and their many dialects a "language Babel". When a new programming language is developed, only its name is known at first and it takes a while before publications about it appear. For some languages, the only relevant literature stays inside the individual companies; some are reported on in papers and magazines; and only a few, such as ALGOL, BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, and PL/1, become known to a wider public through various text- and handbooks. The situation surrounding the application of these languages in many computer centers is a similar one.

    There are differing opinions on the concept "programming languages". What is called a programming language by some may be termed a program, a processor, or a generator by others. Since there are no sharp borderlines in the field of programming languages, works were considered here which deal with machine languages, assemblers, autocoders, syntax and compilers, processors and generators, as well as with general higher programming languages.

    The bibliography contains some 2,700 titles of books, magazines and essays for around 300 programming languages. However, as shown by the "Overview of Existing Programming Languages", there are more than 300 such languages. The "Overview" lists a total of 676 programming languages, but this is certainly incomplete. One author ' has already announced the "next 700 programming languages"; it is to be hoped the many users may be spared such a great variety for reasons of compatibility. The graphic representations (illustrations 1 & 2) show the development and proportion of the most widely-used programming languages, as measured by the number of publications listed here and by the number of computer manufacturers and software firms who have implemented the language in question. The illustrations show FORTRAN to be in the lead at the present time. PL/1 is advancing rapidly, although PL/1 compilers are not yet seen very often outside of IBM.

    Some experts believe PL/1 will replace even the widely-used languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL, and ALGOL.4) If this does occur, it will surely take some time - as shown by the chronological diagram (illustration 2) .

    It would be desirable from the user's point of view to reduce this language confusion down to the most advantageous languages. Those languages still maintained should incorporate the special facets and advantages of the otherwise superfluous languages. Obviously such demands are not in the interests of computer production firms, especially when one considers that a FORTRAN program can be executed on nearly all third-generation computers.

    The titles in this bibliography are organized alphabetically according to programming language, and within a language chronologically and again alphabetically within a given year. Preceding the first programming language in the alphabet, literature is listed on several languages, as are general papers on programming languages and on the theory of formal languages (AAA).
    As far as possible, the most of titles are based on autopsy. However, the bibliographical description of sone titles will not satisfy bibliography-documentation demands, since they are based on inaccurate information in various sources. Translation titles whose original titles could not be found through bibliographical research were not included. ' In view of the fact that nany libraries do not have the quoted papers, all magazine essays should have been listed with the volume, the year, issue number and the complete number of pages (e.g. pp. 721-783), so that interlibrary loans could take place with fast reader service. Unfortunately, these data were not always found.

    It is hoped that this bibliography will help the electronic data processing expert, and those who wish to select the appropriate programming language from the many available, to find a way through the language Babel.

    We wish to offer special thanks to Mr. Klaus G. Saur and the staff of Verlag Dokumentation for their publishing work.

    Graz / Austria, May, 1973
          in Computers & Automation 21(6B), 30 Aug 1972 view details