Abstract: This paper describes the layers of context leveraged by language-endowed intelligent agents (LEIAs) during incremental natural language understanding (NLU). Context is defined as a combination of (a) the perceptual stimuli available to the agent at the given point in time, and (b) the knowledge elements and reasoning activated at the given stage of the agent’s interpretation of those stimuli. This approach to NLU addresses the treatment of a large number of difficult linguistic phenomena that are essential for high-quality NLU but are not being tackled by the knowledge-lean approaches that are typical of modern-day natural language processing. Although LEIAs are being developed as components of prototype application systems, this paper is not about implementations or evaluations – its contribution is conceptual, with everything described applicable to any artificial intelligent agent environment.
Keywords: Context, natural language understanding, intelligent agents, computational semantics