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LINGUIST List 19.605

Thu Feb 21 2008

Software: OpenEphyra Open Source Question Answering System

Editor for this issue: Hannah Morales <hannahlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Nico Schlaefer, OpenEphyra Open Source Question Answering System

Message 1: OpenEphyra Open Source Question Answering System
Date: 21-Feb-2008
From: Nico Schlaefer <nicocs.cmu.edu>
Subject: OpenEphyra Open Source Question Answering System
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Dear Colleagues,

The question answering (QA) research group at Carnegie Mellon University
has decided to place the Ephyra QA system into open source. Ephyra
retrieves answers to natural language questions from the Web and other
sources. The open source version - OpenEphyra - is almost identical to the
system that has been evaluated in the TREC question answering track
(http://trec.nist.gov/), except that we had to exclude some 3rd party tools
and code with specific hardware requirements. The result is a system that
is platform-independent, easy to use, and that can be run on a standard
desktop computer and evaluated on questions from the TREC 8-15 evaluations.
(Thanks to NIST for allowing us to redistribute the test sets.)

We invite you to download OpenEphyra and try it out for your own research.
By making our code open, we hope to facilitate evaluations and comparisons
of different approaches by providing a common platform for experiments. In
addition, we would like to give researchers the opportunity to develop new
algorithms for QA processing steps without having to build an entire
end-to-end system first. It is our hope that OpenEphyra will also be used
for educational purposes; it could easily be adapted for course projects on
natural language processing applications.

If you are interested in trying it out, you can download OpenEphyra from


Just unzip it, run one of the scripts, and type in your questions.

Additional information about the project, the documentation and a
collection of tutorials can be found here:


Also, we have created a mailing list on which we will announce future
releases and news about OpenEphyra:


This is a low-traffic list.

Finally, we would like to invite you to get involved in this open QA
project. We highly encourage you to extend the system with your own work,
and to share your improvements with us and the QA community. Please get in
touch with us if you are interested in joining this project, or if you have
any comments or questions!

Best regards,

Nico Schlaefer
PhD candidate
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University

Linguistic Field(s): Computational Linguistics

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