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The TREC question answering track

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 February 2002

ELLEN M. VOORHEES
Affiliation:
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA

Abstract

The Text REtrieval Conference (TREC) question answering track is an effort to bring the benefits of large-scale evaluation to bear on a question answering (QA) task. The track has run twice so far, first in TREC-8 and again in TREC-9. In each case, the goal was to retrieve small snippets of text that contain the actual answer to a question rather than the document lists traditionally returned by text retrieval systems. The best performing systems were able to answer about 70% of the questions in TREC-8 and about 65% of the questions in TREC-9. While the 65% score is a slightly worse result than the TREC-8 scores in absolute terms, it represents a very significant improvement in question answering systems. The TREC-9 task was considerably harder than the TREC-8 task because TREC-9 used actual users’ questions while TREC-8 used questions constructed for the track. Future tracks will continue to challenge the QA community with more difficult, and more realistic, question answering tasks.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

This paper is an official contribution of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; not subject to copyright in the United States. It is in the public domain.
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