A Transfer-Learnable Natural Language Interface for Databases

7 Sep 2018  ·  Wenlu Wang, Yingtao Tian, Hongyu Xiong, Haixun Wang, Wei-Shinn Ku ·

Relational database management systems (RDBMSs) are powerful because they are able to optimize and answer queries against any relational database. A natural language interface (NLI) for a database, on the other hand, is tailored to support that specific database. In this work, we introduce a general purpose transfer-learnable NLI with the goal of learning one model that can be used as NLI for any relational database. We adopt the data management principle of separating data and its schema, but with the additional support for the idiosyncrasy and complexity of natural languages. Specifically, we introduce an automatic annotation mechanism that separates the schema and the data, where the schema also covers knowledge about natural language. Furthermore, we propose a customized sequence model that translates annotated natural language queries to SQL statements. We show in experiments that our approach outperforms previous NLI methods on the WikiSQL dataset and the model we learned can be applied to another benchmark dataset OVERNIGHT without retraining.

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