A Multi-Agent Approach to Using Redundancy and Reinforcement in Question Answering

We explore how to improve the performance of our Question Answering system by using redundancy and reinforcement. We have deployed in our system a variety of agents, each of which is tuned to a different class of question types, but with considerable overlap. One source of redundancy and reinforcement is from the multiple agents: many questions give rise to two or more sets of candidate answers, which can be merged to provide better performance than any single agent. We note relative improvement of up to 16.3% using the Mean Reciprocal Rank metric, and 11.9% using the Confidence Weight Score metric. We also investigate new approaches we call QA-by-Dossier and QA-by-Dossier-with-Constraints, in which additional questions are asked to generate constraints on the answers to the original question. This can reduce the confidence of many wrong answers and reinforce many good ones, resulting in one experiment in an increase in precision from .43 to .95.

By: John Prager, Jennifer Chu-Carroll, Krzysztof Czuba

Published in: RC22936 in 2003


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