Vanessa Lopez passed her viva with only minor modifications two weeks after another KMi student, Fouad Zablith, also passed his viva. Vanessa’s thesis “Open Question Answering on the large, distributed and heterogeneous Semantic Web” is the result on her topical and timely research.
One side effect of Vanessa’s research is an implemented and working question-answering system, PowerAqua. It is the first system to take advantage of the heterogeneous and distributed semantic data on the Web to interpret and answer natural-language user queries. In particular, PowerAqua is uniquely able to answer queries by combining and aggregating information coming from different autonomously created distributed semantic sources, providing novel mechanisms to find, map, disambiguate integrate and rank semantic data on the fly.
The examiners were Professor Anne De Roeck from the Computing department at the OU and Professor Fabio Ciravegna from the University of Sheffield, both of them emphasised the high quality of the thesis and the underlying work.