Contributions to the Improvement of Question Answering Systems in the Biomedical Domain

by   Mourad Sarrouti, et al.

This thesis work falls within the framework of question answering (QA) in the biomedical domain where several specific challenges are addressed, such as specialized lexicons and terminologies, the types of treated questions, and the characteristics of targeted documents. We are particularly interested in studying and improving methods that aim at finding accurate and short answers to biomedical natural language questions from a large scale of biomedical textual documents in English. QA aims at providing inquirers with direct, short and precise answers to their natural language questions. In this Ph.D. thesis, we propose four contributions to improve the performance of QA in the biomedical domain. In our first contribution, we propose a machine learning-based method for question type classification to determine the types of given questions which enable to a biomedical QA system to use the appropriate answer extraction method. We also propose an another machine learning-based method to assign one or more topics (e.g., pharmacological, test, treatment, etc.) to given questions in order to determine the semantic types of the expected answers which are very useful in generating specific answer retrieval strategies. In the second contribution, we first propose a document retrieval method to retrieve a set of relevant documents that are likely to contain the answers to biomedical questions from the MEDLINE database. We then present a passage retrieval method to retrieve a set of relevant passages to questions. In the third contribution, we propose specific answer extraction methods to generate both exact and ideal answers. Finally, in the fourth contribution, we develop a fully automated semantic biomedical QA system called SemBioNLQA which is able to deal with a variety of natural language questions and to generate appropriate answers by providing both exact and ideal answers.


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