This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

iTech: An Interactive Technical Assistant




Wilson, Dale-Marie

Type of Degree



Computer Science and Software Engineering


This dissertation concentrates on the problem of designing and developing a conversational technical assistant. The main focus is to identify and address issues related to producing a system that allows for conversational question answering that utilizes a new methodology called Answers First. Additionally the mechanics of translating traditional technical communications into a knowledge base of question-answer pairs that will allow for effective information retrieval, pose another significant challenge, especially as the technical communications will be manufacturer-independent. The resulting system should enable manufacturers to provide a new medium to their consumers for technical assistance. In this proposal, a prototype of a conversational technical assistant is developed using the technical communications from a vi manual published by O’Reilly. The approaches used to improve upon the aforementioned issues are described in detail. Through experiments performed on the developed application the performance and potential of the selected approaches will be evaluated.