FQAS'98, Conference theme

The area of Flexible Query Answering System, FQAS, is related to enhancements of inquiring or query-answering systems into technology that can be experienced as being "intelligent" or "flexible". The emphasis of this conference is on problems in users posing queries and systems producing answers.

This focus has become highly relevant as the amount of information available from local and distributed information bases has increased drastically and so have the capacity and speed of ordinary office computer. This makes it obvious to search for more advanced techniques for analyzing and processing user queries than those normally used in database systems and search engines.

A human intermediary with expertise in the domain of interest can often be considered an ideal for a flexible query-answering system. Typically, the friendly human expert attempts to interpret also in-correctly posed questions and tries to compose an answer not reflecting precisely what's in question, but rather what the expert understands to be the intention with the question.

The recent interest in Internet search engines, and the increasing needs for adding quality - in terms of flexibility, performance, precision and recall - to such engines, has further added to the importance of FQAS. Moreover, the current demand for flexible querying into information sources of diverse nature and structure, such as the World Wide Web, and data and knowledge bases, calls for a cross-disciplinary approach from computer science and information sciences, as intended by this conference.

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