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Glossary » natural language interface

natural language interface

a user interface that allows people to interact using a human language, such as English, as opposed to a computer language, command line interface, or graphical user interface. Natural language interfaces may be designed for understanding either written or spoken text. Typical approaches have been attempting to replace command lines and database queries with natural language queries or trying to use natural language syntax for programming languages (e.g. two simple attempts were Cobol and HyperTalk).

The most common problem is ambiguity — users actually frequently prefer the consistency and clarity of computer languages to the unpredictable results of a natural language command, which may have multiple interpretations. The other fundamental problem with achieving full natural language understanding is that understanding language often means being able to reason as a human being would reason and having available the full knowledge of a human being, and this problem has proven to be at a level of complexity still far beyond the scope of current technology.