Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
545 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
This paper describes the START Information Server built at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Available on the World Wide Web since December 1993, the START Server provides users with access to multi-media information in response to questions formulated in English. Over the last 7 years, the START Server answered millions of questions from users all over the world.
The START Server is built on two foundations: the sentence-level Natural Language processing capability provided by the START Natural Language system (Katz ) and the idea of natural language annotations for multi-media information segments. This paper starts with an overview of sentence-level processing in the START system and then explains how annotating information segments with collections of English sentences makes it possible to use the power of sentence-level natural language processing in the service of multi-media information access. The paper ends with a proposal to annotate the World Wide Web.