Affiliations: Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, United Kingdom | The University of Sheffield, S14DP, United Kingdom | MODUL University of Vienna, Austria
Abstract: With the recent rapid growth of the Semantic Web (SW), the processes of searching and querying content that is both massive in scale and heterogeneous have become increasingly challenging. User-friendly interfaces, which can support end users in querying and exploring this novel and diverse, structured information space, are needed to make the vision of the SW a reality. We present a survey on ontology-based Question Answering (QA), which has emerged in recent years to exploit the opportunities offered by structured semantic information on the Web. First, we provide a comprehensive perspective by analyzing the general background and history of the QA research field, from influential works from the artificial intelligence and database communities developed in the 70s and later decades, through open domain QA stimulated by the QA track in TREC since 1999, to the latest commercial semantic QA solutions, before tacking the current state of the art in open user-friendly interfaces for the SW. Second, we examine the potential of this technology to go beyond the current state of the art to support end-users in reusing and querying the SW content. We conclude our review with an outlook for this novel research area, focusing in particular on the R&D directions that need to be pursued to realize the goal of efficient and competent retrieval and integration of answers from large scale, heterogeneous, and continuously evolving semantic sources.