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Talking to UNIX in English: An Overview of an On-line UNIX Consultant

Wilensky, Robert
Technical Report Identifier: CSD-82-104
September 1982

Abstract: Introduction: UC (UNIX Consultant) is an intelligent natural language interface that allows naive users to communicate with the UNIX operating system in ordinary English. The goal of UC is to provide a natural language help facility that allows new users to learn operating system conventions in a relatively painless way. UC is not meant to be a substitute for a good operating system command interpreter, but rather, an additional tool at the disposal of the new user, to be used in conjunction with other operating system components.

UC allows the user to engage in natural language dialogues with the operating system. While there are a number of other natural language interfaces available today, these are mostly used as natural language front ends to particular data bases (for example, see Hayes & Carbonell 1981, Hendrix 1977, Robinson 1982, Waltz et al. 1976, and Woods 1970). In contrast, the user uses UC in order to learn how better to use the UNIX environment in which UC is embedded. UC can handle requests stated in a wide variety of forms, and has a number of features to enhance its function as a user interface.