Access to bibliographic data bases — The provider agents in MeDoc
The realization of a user-friendly access to local and distributed information resources is broadly acknowledged as a growing need with regard to the globalization of our informational world. In this context, three methods for developing interfaces to information providers are discussed which support the end-user in finding the information matching his requirements. The central part of this paper deals with the approach followed in the general framework of the MeDoc project. It is realized in the form of so-called provider agents (PA) developed on the base of an object-oriented design method. Each PA is assigned to a special information provider and translates the form-oriented user query in formal language expressions of the Internet interface supported by the provider (which is generally unknown to the user of MeDoc). One important feature of the provider agents is their division into a general reusable part (the PA framework) and a special (provider-specific) part.
The MeDoc approach is complemented by two other methods providing the user with a natural language interface (NLI) to dedicated bibliographic data bases (one representing a library of AI literature and the other containing the bibliographic information of all university libraries of the Land North-Rhine Westphalia). The corresponding NLIs are based on a functional approach and a logic-oriented approach, respectively. It is argued that there is only a comparatively small step left to close the gap between formal meaning representations of natural language sentences and the query languages used by the PAs in the MeDoc project. The long-term goal of our work is the combination of the techniques developed for the natural language interfaces to local data bases and the methods for realizing the access of end-users to information providers in the Internet.
KeywordsUser Agent Query Term Meta Data Information Provider Rule System
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