Evaluating the Usability of Natural Language Query Languages and Interfaces to Semantic Web Knowledge Bases
23 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2018 Publication Status: Accepted
The need to make the contents of the Semantic Web accessible to end-users becomes increasingly pressing as the amount of information stored in ontology-based knowledge bases steadily increases. Natural language interfaces (NLIs) provide a familiar and convenient means of query access to Semantic Web data for casual end-users. While several studies have shown that NLIs can achieve high retrieval performance as well as domain independence, this paper focuses on usability and investigates if NLIs and natural language query languages are useful from an enduser’s point of view. To that end, we introduce four interfaces each allowing a different query language and present a usability study benchmarking these interfaces. The results of the study reveal a clear preference for full natural language query sentences with a limited set of sentence beginnings over keywords or formal query languages. NLIs to ontology-based knowledge bases can, therefore, be considered to be useful for casual or occasional end-users. As such, the overarching contribution is one step towards the theoretical vision of the Semantic Web becoming reality.
Keywords: Natural language interfaces, Query languages, Usability study
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