An Empirical Study of Errors in Translating Natural Language into Logic

Barker-Plummer, Dave, Cox, Richard, Dale, Robert and Etchemendy, John (2008) An Empirical Study of Errors in Translating Natural Language into Logic. In: Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Washington, DC.

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Every teacher of logic knows that the ease with which a student can translate a natural language sentence into formal logic depends, amongst other things, on just how that natural language sentence is phrased. This paper reports findings from a pilot study of a large scale corpus in the area of formal logic education, where we used a very large dataset to provide empirical evidence for specific characteristics of natural language problem statements that frequently lead to students making mistakes. We developed a rich taxonomy of the types of errors that students make, and implemented tools for automatically classifying student errors into these categories. In this paper, we focus on three specific phenomena that were prevalent in our data: Students were found (a) to have particular difficulties with distinguishing the conditional from the biconditional, (b) to be sensitive to word-order effects during translation, and (c) to be sensitive to factors associated with the naming of constants. We conclude by considering the implications of this kind of large-scale empirical study for improving an automated assessment system specifically, and logic teaching more generally.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Depositing User: Richard Cox
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:25
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2012 12:50
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