Question answering from natural language medical data bases

Ralph Grishman, Lynette Hirschman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes a system for automatically answering questions about a collection of natural language medical records. The particular records used for an initial experiment were a set of 206 radiology reports. The implementation involves two major steps: manual determination of a suitable tabular structure (information format) for representing the information contained in the medical records, and automatic conversion of the natural language input (for either record or question) into a form corresponding to the data base. For the medical records the conversion into a data base is done by first performing a syntactic and transformational analysis of the sentences, followed by application of formatting transformations. The question-answering procedure has analogous initial steps but undergoes additional steps of processing to translate the question into a retrieval operation on the data base. Samples of the data base and of the question-answering procedure are shown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-43
Number of pages19
JournalArtificial Intelligence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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