Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

A natural language interface to an intelligent planning system

I.B. Crabtree, R.S. Crouch, D.C. Moffat, N.J. Pirie, S.G. Pulman, G.D. Ritchie, B.A. Tate

January 1989, 14 pages

This project is supported by the Alvey Directorate and the Science and Engineering Research Council (Alvey IKBS 179, SERC GR/D/83507). This paper is to appear in the Proceedings of the 1988 UK IT Conference, Swansea.


An intelligent planning system is an example of a software aid which, although developed by specialists, is intended to be used by non-programmers for a wide variety of tasks. There is therefore a need for a communication medium which allows the application specialist, and the non-expert user to specify their needs without knowing the details of the system.

This kind of system is one where the ‘mice and menus’ approach is unlikely to be able to provide a very flexible interface since the range and type of potential queries is not predictable in advance. Clearly, therefore, some kind of language is a necessity here. The aim of this project is to experiment with the use of English language as the medium of communication. The kind of system we would eventually be able to build would be one where the user could use the planner to organise some external activity, trying out alternative scenarios, and then interact with the system during the execution of the resulting plans, making adjustments where necessary.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Crabtree, I.B. and Crouch, R.S. and Moffat, D.C. and Pirie,
          	  N.J. and Pulman, S.G. and Ritchie, G.D. and Tate, B.A.},
  title = 	 {{A natural language interface to an intelligent planning
  year = 	 1989,
  month = 	 jan,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-154}