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Computers are finally able to solve word problems and bring our dreams to reality

By Kaustubh Katdare in 'Computer Science | IT | Networking', May 5, 2014.

  1. Kaustubh Katdare


    Engineering Discipline:
    When I was first introduced to the computers years ago, I wasn't impressed. All I wanted to know whether the machine would provide me answers to the questions I directly typed in. The answer then, was 'no'; but engineers at MIT have turned it into a 'yes'. A team of researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory along with a team from University of Washington has developed complex algorithms that are capable of solving word problems. As of now, the system can correctly answer the algebra problems and is likely to evolve to solve physics and chemistry problems as well. You don't have to break down the question into parts or make the computer understand it; the computer does it all by itself.

    Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT​

    The system has been developed by Nate Kushman along with Regina Barzilay and team. In order to make the computer understand the word problems, the researchers relied on two existing computational tools - Macsyma and a sentence parser. Macsyma identifies the structure of the word problem and converts it into a template. The sentence parser ensures the meanings of the words are correctly put into context by relating them. For example, if the system encounters phrase 'react with', it gets a hint that the problem is related to Chemistry. If the question has words like 'costs' or 'price', the system thinks that the problem is likely to involve money related calculations.

    The researchers have put sanity checks into the system, so that the outputs aren't bizarre. For example, if the problem is about calculating height of an object, then the system won't output a negative number. The applications of such a system are numerous. Right from using it in search engines to to solving common geometry or physics problems; the applications are unlimited. Do let us know your thoughts on the system.

    Source: MIT
    • Like Like x 2
    #1 Kaustubh Katdare, May 5, 2014
    Last edited: May 6, 2014


Discussion in 'Computer Science | IT | Networking' started by Kaustubh Katdare, May 5, 2014.

    1. Satya Swaroop Dash

      Engineering Discipline:
      Computer Science
      The researchers might have found a cleverer way to putting all rules and constraints in the system. They have also not mentioned the kind of computer they used to make the system, is it a desktop, workstation or a fully blown super computer ?
      • Like Like x 1
    2. SarathKumar Chandrasekaran

      Engineering Discipline:
      Stunning research by MITians.They always lead in innovation.Goood article Kaustubh ji
    3. Rajni Jain

      Rajni Jain Star

      Engineering Discipline:
      Computer Science
      The thread says..
      I hope it would be a software / program / App and would be independent of hardware things (can be used with Desktop / laptop or anything), right?
      • Like Like x 1