Information systems are the core of modern enterprises and scientific exploration. They are often based on fundamental research developed in the database community. While enterprise data is typically stored in relational databases, data-intensive scientific disciplines such as bioinformatics often store their data in graph databases. To query these databases, end-users need to know the formal query languages SQL or SPARQL as well as the logical structure of the databases. However, even for technology experts it is very challenging to write the right queries to retrieve the desired data. Hence, a large part of the end-users is basically not able to effectively query their databases.
In this talk we discuss how to build intelligent information systems that enable end-users to talk to their data similar to humans. The major goal is to combine artificial intelligence with human intelligence for novel ways of data exploration. In particular, we will show how we have built various natural language interfaces for databases using pattern-based and machine learning-based approaches to significantly increase the productivity of scientists and knowledge workers when interacting with data. We demonstrate that our system INODE (Intelligent Open Data Exploration), which we have been building as part of a European Union project with 9 partners across Europe, is uniquely accessible to a wide range of users from large scientific communities to the public. Finally we elaborate on the lessons learned when developing such as system and discuss how the technology can be enhanced by researchers or knowledge workers for exploring their own databases in natural language.
Prof. Dr. Kurt Stockinger is Professor of Computer Science, Director of Studies in Data Science at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and Co-Head of the ZHAW Datalab. His research focuses on Data Science with emphasis on Big Data, Natural Language Query Processing, Query Optimization and Quantum Computing. Essentially, his research interests are at the intersection of databases, natural language processing and machine learning. He is also on the Advisory Board of Callista Group AG and the International AIQT Foundation. Previously Prof. Stockinger worked at Credit Suisse in Zurich, Switzerland, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, at California Institute of Technology, California as well as at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from CERN / University of Vienna.