With the inception of World Wide Web, the amount of data present on the internet is tremendous. This makes the task of navigating through this enormous amount of data quite difficult for the user. As users struggle to navigate through this wealth of information, the need for the development of an automated system that can extract the required information becomes urgent. The aim of this thesis is to develop a Question Answering system to ease the process of information retrieval.
Question Answering systems have been around for quite some time and are a sub-field of information retrieval and natural language processing. The task of any Question Answering system is to seek an answer to a free form factual question. The difficulty of pinpointing and verifying the precise answer makes question answering more challenging than simple information retrieval done by search engines. Text REtrieval Conference (TREC) is a yearly conference which provides large - scale infrastructure and resources to support research in information retrieval domain. TREC has a question answering track since 1999 where the questions dataset contains a list of factual questions (Vorhees & Tice, 1999). DBpedia (Bizer et al., 2009) is a community driven effort to extract and structure the data present in Wikipedia.
The research objective of this thesis is to develop a novel approach to Question Answering based on a composition of conventional approaches of Information Retrieval and Natural Language processing. The focus is also on exploring the use of a structured and annotated knowledge base as opposed to an unstructured knowledge base. The knowledge base used here is DBpedia and the final system is evaluated on the TREC 2004 questions dataset.